THE THRESHOLD WE CROSS WITH CLOSED EYES
(Percussion quartet and electronics) 30'
Commissioned by Third Coast Percussion with the support of Creative New Zealand.
I’ve been thinking about the stories we tell about how we came to be here in this moment.
Some histories of arrival are threaded with filaments of bone and blood and earth. Some histories are gilded with myth. Some histories are severed by trauma, and some are worn through with silence. Some histories intertwine and wind about each other while others creep and climb in different directions along different paths.
There are ends, but no beginnings.
I’ve delved into the Library of Congress’s digital archives and listened to recording after recording of Americans telling stories of arrival at a point in history. Fragments of some of these are sampled in this piece. For me, time began to collapse and place began to smart, less ancient scars and grown over ground, and more violent and vanishing land.
The title is from a verse in the poem, "Angels Grieving over the Dead Christ," by Gjertrud Schnackenberg:
The threshold we cross with closed eyes—
Where angels hide behind their backs
The saws with which they mean
To saw the present from the past
Gjertrud Schnackenberg, “Angels Grieving Over the Dead Christ” from “Crux of Radiance” from Supernatural Love: Poems 1976-1992. (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2000.)