Duration: ca. 8:30
Live Recording: Nicole Molumby, flute and Leslie Moreau, clarinet :: Boise State University
Premiere of version 1: November 1, 2014 :: Crescent Duo; Joanna Cowan White, flute; Kennen White, clarinet :: 2014 National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors National Conference :: St. Louis, MO
Premiere of version 3: March 9, 2018 :: Taimur Sullivan, soprano saxophone and Zach Shemon, alto saxophone :: 2018 North American Saxophone Alliance Biennial Conference :: College-Conservatory of Music, Cincinnati, OH
Staying the Night was commissioned by the Crescent Duo and Central Michigan University and is a collaborative project with poet Robert Fanning, whose poem should always precede this piece in performance in recorded form (recording available through the composer). Robert’s beautiful words served as the stimulus for this music, and I am deeply indebted to him for his work, without which this piece could not exist.
STAYING THE NIGHT
I want to touch everything she touched
yesterday: my fingers lingering on her shelves
and counter. I flip through the paperback
left half-read on the nightstand, inhale
the crumpled yellow hand towel near her
bathroom sink, breathe in the dust and dander
of her apartment air. My wife sifts a pile
of unpaid bills, lifts a framed photo, reads
an inscription on a birthday card. This home’s
a sudden museum. From the living room,
I hear our daughter knock a glass thing over
and giggle. I move to save the breakables from wreckage
then remember: nothing can now be ruined.
We’re the guests of someone gone.
From a stack of papers, I pull some brief note
she wrote, marvel at her slight, precise lettering.
On her fridge shelf, a tub of leftover spaghetti,
an unfinished sandwich. In a drawer the perishables
sweat: a new head of lettuce, a few pieces of fresh fruit.
I choose to eat the peach she chose from the grocery’s
produce rows, not knowing it would outlive her.
Later, before going to sleep in her bed, I see
a still life next to the kitchen sink: one white bowl
upside down, one fork, one knife, and beside the faucet
her unwashed drinking glass. Lifting the glass, I hope
to see her lipstick’s usual pink wedge, scour for
a fingerprint, some smudge. I fill it half-full
with water, cover the rim with my lips,
turn it in a circle, slowly. This is how
I kiss my sister goodbye.