ravens & radishes Libretto

ravens & radishes
a re-imagining of classic fairytales…

Libretto by Misha Penton
Composed by George Heathco

witch in winter
wind whooshes through fissures in darkhour shingles
something on the evening stairs sounds december
and my porch, a tundra of bone chimes, crackssnaps
through seaglass casement curtains
my heart a tangle in their filaments
I watch grandma’s fingers weave
winter kitchen incandescence
readying silk for the telling of stories
she leaves garden radish tending for spring
when duranta blooms and hollyhock cultivate the land for moth-tide: 
the season of air shaft whimsy
and spin-past-on-the-breeze wings        
when digging ‘round the little plants’ sproutgreens, 
their iron tangy fleshy folds red lipped, bundled
oozing a low ache
earth blood beneath her fingernails
between the tiny plot’s molting ash wood fence stakes
up to their shoulders high with snows
and iced barbed wire keeps the love inside

my looking glass, its edges a tangle of serpentine tresses
a frame carved in deep sanguine sleep
a breath in
a breath out
frosts my likeness
a reflection of dark lashes and lips, 
fingertips and speckled brown iris
evening wishes Its images cast behind me:
of Night carrying stars, 
Her baskets high above hills
the wind at Her back
delicately transporting clouds upon her apron
reflected moments ripple and whirl
what if I shatter? in shards?
and each fragment spun out across distances of forest
and dream:
and each is myopic, illusion-inducing
and stabs its way into every heart
and laid bare
all our delusions?
who, then, to heal us?

october ravine
Ah! so here is where I left it!: 
a little grotto nestled in the wet greens
of an october ravine
open to me, rock agape
its sacred seeming granite edge laced in winter-nude wisteria
I shake and shudder
as I pull my expansive feathered cloak close
its warmth at last! an ebon-aubergine of quills
that shimmer and ruffle and weave
enfolded in my lost skin
I walk out and into the winds
at my back, the Glass Mountain sings its bluegreenbluegreenblue iridescence
translucent against firmament
unnoticed, six ravens rise
black wings beat a dissonance against mists
whitened by moonlight
and I? I am the seventh    

sheep’s clothing
a vein of yarn leads a passage
over forest floor branches, a-tangle
a last leaf hangs iced in orangebrownredblack
an inky ash
slippery slate path peeks through midwinter snows
all the better to step upon –
all the better to –
children wait
growing like greenwood fiddlehead ferns unfolding
scent of curls and chocolates
laced skirts and frock shirts swirl past: 
a blur of ball-toss and hide-and-seek
their shout in the night nightmares catch on breeze and briar
all the better to –
all the better to stalk –
forepaws, hind paws, tail
my breath along the trail
fang and claw, expectant

l'oiseau de feu
his hooves run clap ring
sprint clop zing over Sky’s grasses
his breath is chervil and dandelion, fennel, and hyssop
birches and bamboo, tall tangled twisted:
a tempt – a blur – we dash
my quiver arrows speak sharp and true across my bow
star trails smear and slash: 
whips across emblazoned firmament
glisten, flash! splash! 
he rears and the muddied road reaches up
shhh! wait!
I hear the swoop and swoosh, whirl and whoosh
the dive of the Firebird alights upon the path
feldspar eyes, plasma plumage
as quickly as she graced us, she is gone:
in a whisper and a rustle she gifts a single tail feather:
I resist the glint of its lightning barbs
the steely cut of its vane
the melisma of its lava quill
I will not possess her