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The Speaking Strings

by Anaïs Bokanovsky and Fay Roberts

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Misted 01:45
After the rains came You were a whisper Grey was a curtain Slanting A promise of light to come. After the rains came Colours were muted Less of a burden Fingertips a drumroll against the windowpane And in-between – silence. After the rains came Mirrors were gaps Walls giving back Ticks, as clocks’ clicked fingers Filled the house. After the rains came Cushions filled to empty And dust held court In clasps of five On secret surfaces. After the rains came I breathed in green And breathed out blue Like the gathering sky Seen through the trees. And the season… ended.
A glance disarms my invention. My tongue tangles itself, tripping me to drown headlong in two eyes like the sea at sunrise – the exact colours of a long, drawn-out, summer dawn in Orkney, reflected. Brain neglected, I happily bob and sway, shamelessly – well, nearly – adrift in the sea of your regard. That small shame, that… crimson shame threads through the blue like spice – cutting those cool sensations with hot, sharp intentions – the edge to every catching breath, striking deeper and deeper into my chest with every push and cresting wave and every tug and sighing release. Oh, my love – for you I’d turn sailor, learn to read the weather of your ways, and ride the tides of your affections. No longer shipwrecked, I’d reconstruct your gifts – those glances given, smiles bestowed, and words exchanged… Then, on that craft of sighs, and hungry nights, I’d traverse you ’til I lost all sight of land, and there, rocked on the belly of the murmuring mystery, I’d weave my net of words and music and cast to catch the moonlight glinting from your wavetops, and bring it home with me. Come, mermaid, and I’ll sing to you, to tell you of a love between the elements. You’d see me true, and shore to you – holding, encircling, delineating but never limiting, smiling as again and again you throw yourself into my arms, and run your fingers down my cheek, with a sigh like all the world’s hurt… easing.
Landscapes 02:20
As breath curls, So curves the wind, Catching echoes of the Gulls’ cry, An arc of wings, A hitch of homesickness. As hair curves, So winds the road, Catching mountains In the crook of its arm, A glance over the shoulder, A farewell to the city. As hands cup, So folds the valley, Catching the eye, A stillness of distance, A lullaby of encircling fingers To the retreating home. As the eye cradles visions, The heart is led, And we are becoming city and Mountain, History the road between, A gap of words, A crook of the finger, Lifting us into legend. My future has roots, A spreading of limbs, A deep draft of earth’s exhalations, Drawn from bones, layers, compact. Yours is yet unwritten, A climbing, winding, Crevasse-daring escapade, A glory of trumpets In high places. What we have been, we are, Taking the sea to new places, Drifting into myth… And, as the gulls cry, My heart lifts to the scent Of changing winds.
One morning fair I took the air Down by Blackwaterside 'Twas gazing all around me The Irish that I spied She was made of eyes, Unblushing, A quick step, A tumble of hair, And we fell into each other. Ribbons entwined in the dance. ’Twas in the first part of that night We lay in sport and played, When this young man arose and he gathered his clothes, Saying, "Fare thee well today". Intoxication drummed In my blood, Tugged words Where the faith of Fingertips should have sufficed. That's not the promise that you gave to me When first you lay on my breast, You could make me believe with your lying tongue That the sun rose in the west. She looked at me with those Deep-drowning eyes, Melting me to the core, And I was lost again. This is not an excuse. This is a prayer.   Go home, go home, to your father's garden Go home and you weep your fill, And think on your own misfortune That you bought with your wanton will. Other vows draw me, Unwilling, with feet of clay, Heart cleaved into Stuttering meat, Bones slivers, step broken. Marching beats drive me now I do not think I will ever dance again. There's not one girl in this whole wide world So easily led as I, Sure the skies they will fall and the seas they run dry, When they marry you and I. Listen. As the sun touches the sea, If you can hear me, Follow the dancing path it lays Across the waves And it's there we'll be together. One morning fair I took the air Down by Blackwaterside 'Twas gazing all around me The Irish that I spied.
And we… We heat the air between us, You and I, Like… sweet steam rising, We are the source, the surge, The urges crackling in palm And throat and gut We are eyes meeting – Direct yet, somehow, shy, Mindful of the layers – We know what lies behind We know all the whys I feel you I feel each sin You yearn to commit Drip down my skin Froth at our fingertips Glisten I watch your lips And find I’m tasting mine Simmering Brimming with sounds I slip into our sentences together Syllables to lick And tumble over your contours, Vowels that sigh, Consonants to flick at your nerve-endings And pauses that thrum against your flesh, Caressing And we…? Oh, we… We are… Eyes meet again, We smile, reach out, Touch, embrace… But… safely, Heads turned, Mindful of those layers – We know what lies behind, We know all the whys. And why not…
It was right after the sea was full No it wasn't yesterday when I ceased to look around for stories to tell from this world of sight and sound It was right after the sea was full You remember that day when the whale cried? I'll remember for a long time No one saw it coming but we, and it was time So with a few others we tried and tried My songs travelled inward, dwelled in here Obstinate as a child and my eyes were shut My mind was here and near, told my own stories, but that mind was full of wonders, couldn't take it any longer… So I packed my bag with pen and headed to the misty mountain Where my mind is still Where my mind is still and free
The breath of the soul is flawed, Scored by the indentations that caressed, That brought it here, that made it what it is. The sigh that is stone rolls, as it must, Making tracks, as it goes, in the dust – Black and white and, later, gold. The essence of the stone Is the groans heaved in its weaving, The sweat poured, The flesh and blood beaten against its surface, The heart worn with each sharp stroke Shaping the whole, bestowing grace, Carving a face into this change of nature. And when the last stroke is taken, The stone rolls to the centre of the room, Where all turns on its axis for a while; A sweet and bitter while. Until time passes and dust falls, Changing its shape again, softening its shadow. For perfection is in the making And when the breath stops… The sigh is still. And all that is left of the stone Are the tracks that it made As it passed through the dust of a world Which keeps on turning.
Huna blentyn ar fy mynwes Clyd a chynnes ydyw hon; Breichiau mam sy'n dynn amdanat, Cariad mam sy dan fy mron; Ni chaiff dim amharu'th gyntun, Ni wna undyn â thi gam; Huna'n dawel, annwyl blentyn, Huna'n fwyn ar fron dy fam. Huna'n dawel, heno, huna, Huna'n fwyn, y tlws ei lun; Pam yr wyt yn awr yn gwenu, Gwenu'n dirion yn dy hun? Ai angylion fry sy'n gwenu, Arnat ti yn gwenu'n llon, Tithau'n gwenu'n ôl dan huno, Huno'n dawel ar fy mron? Sleep child on my bosom Cosy and warm is this; Mother's arms are tight around you, Mother's love is within my breast; Nothing will disturb your dozing, No man will cross you; Sleep quietly, dear child, Sleep sweetly on your mother's breast. Sleep quietly, tonight, sleep; Sleep sweetly, such a pretty picture; Why are you now smiling, Smiling softly in your sleep? Are angels above smiling, Smiling joyfully on you, You, smiling back in sleeping, Sleeping quietly on my breast?
(CHANGELING) From sunrise to sundown, I do my master's will I wait upon his table and I keep his goblet filled I scrub I scour and I scrape until my body aches Though some folks in this place they pity and treat me kind I am alone, I don't belong, I have no friend, there is no end. I have seen you through the veil I know your face from before I know you so well. I'm longing to meet you, this spell will be broken Can you find me to take me back home? (FAIRY GIRL) I was raised in this world, a land so beautiful Though only one moon and a sun, for my aching soul I left my home one day, where I didn't belong I packed my harp and my books and bade them farewell My parents treat me kind, always feed me well but I am not from here; I recall everything You've seen me through the veil You know my face from before You know me so well I'm longing to meet you, this spell will be broken I swear I'll find you, and take you back home So my feet walked the paths of the world Travelled to the forests and the hills and the seas Looking for a new land, begging my eyes to see But I knew I was blinded by this human world So I plucked the strings and learned the songs Til a man, one night, he told me a tale, Said ‘A human boy was once claimed by the Fairy King who sent away his fairy girl, and raised that changeling’ (That night when all became clear, I cried all my tears) I thought of you as I sat among the trees I knew I was blind but I did hear your voice (CHANGELING) 'If you want to find me you'll find your way For now I'm in your dreams but I'll be real someday Now that you know the truth, please Come and save me You don't need your eyes to see' (FAIRY GIRL) Wings grew from my shoulders behind In the blink of an eye I was by your side I saved you from this evil king I took you under his eyes I was meant to hate you for you took my place But the look in your eyes told me I was blessed To walk by your side and let you hold me For a million years He will walk with her, love She'll tell him stories about a place where music is heard And people love him for who he is People love them for who they are People love you for who you are They do
Turn Again 02:35
We make no sense, it seems – We are rushing to stand still. You see, we’re not a circle after all, We’re a spiral: beginning and end invisible. We are helical, a maze of breaths. The sigh that spoke your bones still calls, And you and I are diacritics In the mouth of the world. Look – its breath shapes dunes Its tongue in cloud shadows that talk of storms. The fingers running through the standing grasses, The palm of the wave clasping the foam of stones. The farewell of galloping manes, a river rush. And while rain tumbles down hillsides, Its sisters make tributaries on my window, And I miss home. Listen – all the words that we make To shape what we see Are bricks, not the ocular grain of timber, The purling verse of the woods in springtime… We are but a part of it, Dizzied in the turn of the dance, Glimpsing our destination In the salmon leap of sun from water, The curve of fire shadows on your cheek, And the way that mountains pull against the sky, And take us with them. And even all these – and even them? They are only trills and glosses On the age-old song The world is singing of itself. The same one that is new In every note.


Spoken word artist Fay Roberts and Celtic harpist Anaïs Bokanovsky have joined together to give you an album of solo and collaborative music and poetry, from old favourites to brand-new pieces written together, this is a mix of haunting music and beautiful words.


released December 24, 2015


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