Selkie, a sea tale Libretto

Selkie, a sea tale
a monodrama chamber opera in one act

Libretto by Misha Penton
Composed by Elliot Cooper Cole

Zephyrus through my whipping hair
Boreas cross my frost red lips
Eurus trace my shadow place
Notus bring the Southern Cross
Verglas hold the farthest clouds in still remembrance
I cannot wake
Without you
Cassiopeia, Monoceros, Circinus, Delphinus, Argo Navis… Star Hunter

_____________


Almost afternoon
And treacle clouds rush into evening
Pushing us along
Pushing us
Toward each other
A walk through the church belled town
Its paths all tiger lily for spring
You lean on the marketʼs splintered cross-beam railing
And lilacs spill scented from your hands
We pick them from pavement
And with your blue sailor eyes
Even before our first words
It is too late for me
And our Only Season seems a forever ahead

My door shadows open
Wave air swooshes swoosh swishy swishes in
to tousle ever so almost not there curtains diaphanous
Behind me
Your hands gentle on my waist
Gentle down my arms
Gentle on my shouldersʼ skin
And on my cheeks and over lips
And thighs and back and breath
And — 

Night lifts the moon
Night lifts the moon just high enough off draping sands that exhale hushed and rippled patterns: spreading down from the lawn of the I dreamt a sea gabled house with widow’s walk
My skirts, held, lifted from wild rose briars' snag and snare, are all rustle whisper rustle whisper rustle whisper smile
And I meet you at the edge where moon and sand, star and land, seagrass and waters' lips kiss our dancing

Softly over sounding autumn waves
Softly over sounding autumn waves you sail
The scent of your neck against my face a memory
Of seastars, anemone and shell gathered mornings
Oceanstrand rainforest moss chills our hands - so lightly touching
We climb marine granite toward an osprey pine aerie
A seal bobs her beckoning head for us:
Seduction to dash our bodies
Against deceptive stone and join her in the fearless sea

When you came ashore
When you came ashore I thought weʼd see
unbound days and coastal evening sea grass stars
sand smoothed out like honeyed silk
Iʼd keep you
wrapped
in linen and tears
for the years
you relinquish to the land and to me
you know all our stars by heart: Cassiopeia, Monoceros, Circinus, Delphinus, Argo
Navis… Orion lighting midwinter ices
you sail by the the brightest and easiest
by the quietest
by the dimmest
by sun and under cloud
in mist and in storm
and they come for you

Evened out days
Evened out days
Passing
All alike and translucent
Dull suns exhale behind clouds high, impenetrable
And heaven's second hand ticks years charmed by Selkie time
Days double counted
I lose our seconds, hours and weeks
Their outstretched arms
Taut between us
Press
One palm to my breast
One palm to your chest
Apart
And when you return
Our moments so brilliant and light, tight with every breath and ache and heat and scent and sweat
Press us together in a single sigh

Dark night, long night
Dark night
Long night
Pleiades light long
Midwinter
Night
Alone under lavender warm white goose down
Night
Placid fire shimmers low
Steady coals turn to ash
Eight bells chime a quiet seamist requiem
My very very early morning-mares
Freeze me
A heavy and stubborn nocturnal creature
All mutiny on my chest
Breathing my small terror breaths
Stealing sweat with its tongue cinnamon-like and sweet darting
I cannot wake
Without you
I dreamt a sea gabled house with widowʼs walk
And skirts all rustle whisper rustle whisper rustle whisper weep on iron rust railing
Zephyrus through my whipping hair
Boreas cross my frost red lips
Eurus trace my shadow place
Notus bring the Southern Cross
Verglas hold the farthest clouds in still remembrance
If I speak aloud will you seep into being?
If I dream you in soft sighing word-breaths will you sweep through a chink in the dawn?
If I hold my spirit while you are gone
Will you return?
I cannot wake
Without you
Cassiopeia, Monoceros, Circinus, Delphinus, Argo Navis… Star Hunter

Ordinary Sailor
I thought you were an ordinary sailor
I thought you were an ordinary sailor
I thought you were an ordinary sailor
Not a master mariner
They came for you to aid their treachery
They came for you to aid their thievery
They came for you to aid conspiracy
Taken from me to sail their ships
And I wish
I knew
And I wish
I knew
    your only way - away
    your only way
Not back to me
Not back to me
Not back to me
but back to the long open deep
It stretches beneath
Us
When midnight came
I took your seal skin
Youʼd given me
Given me all wrapped in linen and tears
Sea grass stars slide through my fingers
Sand smoothed out like honeyed silk
A splash
A dinghy
Heave its creaking wood
Over sands scraping sands scraping sand
    and frothy seastand
My skirts wet with salt and sweat
And tiptoe over open night waves
To the sailing ship where you slept
Held captive
The oak of its hull is slick and black - oil against my hands
My tiny boat tied up against the battened masted ship
I slip
Up the stern ladder
I slip
Over the wale
I slide
With the locus of night
My skirts all rustle whisper rustle whisper rustle whisper weep
Over spar deck and quarter deck
Past spiritsail, topgallant stay
Bowspirit and royal mast
Near lanteen, mizzen lift and brails
Sea barely swells under my held breath
I want to (shout)
I want to conspire our names
But I find you
With no time to reach
And return you
And return you
Not back to me
Not back to me
Not back to me
but back to the long open deep
It stretches beneath
Us
I leave in a hush and a rush
of linen and tears
for our years
released to the land
I cannot row fast enough
I cannot row hard enough
I cannot row skilled enough
As the dawn storm rises

_____________

Zephyrus through my whipping hair
Boreas cross my frost red lips
Eurus trace my shadow place
Notus bring the Southern Cross
Verglas hold the farthest clouds in still remembrance
I cannot wake
Without you
Cassiopeia, Monoceros, Circinus, Delphinus, Argo Navis… Star Hunter


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