Windsong

“Windsong: Grand Opera,” “Full-ness of Time” and “Shadow Play”

Russell Willis

“Windsong:  Grand Opera,” “Full-ness of Time” and “Shadow Play”

Windsong: Grand Opera

The first strains of the overture

Intrudes on the calm of normalcy.

Several measures of gentle breeze

Slowly crescendo into true wind.

The key and rhythm suddenly change,

Then revert to the original.

In each cycle, the gusts of sound are

Increasingly staccato.

The mood darkens and the pace quickens,

Angry winds whip and saw–

Spring storms spawning tornadoes,

Winter’s Nor’easters and blizzards,

Tropical cyclones of summer and early fall.

The music in these angry winds sounds like

Cries of anguish, brokenness, unleashed fury.

The overture climaxes as a howl

Or dissonant intermingling of howls.

Act I opens with the tenor’s lament,

Raising an alarm that is already too late.

Chastising the foolishness of

Windows not boarded,

Supplies not stored,

Harbors not secured,

Plans not made,

Escape no longer possible.

The alto emerges with a solemn, dirge-like chant

That drones on as foundation

Upon which the tenor can build

His cold and biting recitatives.

The alto’s chant grows in presence and power

At the very bottom of her range, much lower than the tenor

Whose howls soar to ever greater heights.

Act I closes with a chorus of second altos

Thrumming as power lines or lanyards in a gale,

The single tenor slicing through the thrum

With what might be either warning siren or

Or the tell-tale sound of deadly winds.

In Act II, the soprano’s voice strikes like lightning on the ear.

Spotlights flash as she moves quickly

From stage right to stage left, never in the same place more than once.

The bass soon thunders into the fray.

They argue as to who is more frightening,

Sound or light?

At first, thunder follows lightning.

The bass answers the soprano’s first note

After several full measures.

But soon his voice echoes after a half rest.

In four more measures the delay is a quarter rest.

Soon just an eighth rest, a sixteenth.

As the storm mounts, chaos ensues.

Their responses are immediate and devastating.

The curtain rises on Act III with the four soloists and chorus

Singing in a double fortissimo unison.

The sound is

Inescapable,

Unrelenting,

Insatiable.

No single voice can be recognized.

All that is is wind...

Essentially dissonance, yet complex harmonies emerge,

Beginning with all four voices

Supported by the alto chorus.

Then three voices of different combinations

Sing of desolation and grief.

The chorus retreats offstage, beginning a chant of grief-seeking hope.

Then two voices start conversations

Of condolence and new beginnings.

Then the tenor alone sings of sun and calm and hope.

The curtain falls as wind has subsided to whispers,

The whispers of stagehands

Picking up the pieces of lives torn apart.

The audience departs, echoing the whispers,

Whispers reminding fellow travelers

Not to be so foolish as to ignore the wind song.

Full-ness of Time

It seems profoundly silly to think

that time could be more full,

for even our most empty of times

are filled with fears or dreams or

unbidden bits of conscious and

unconscious ness.

This ness, the essence of nightmare and

daydream, lingering in the lengths and

depths of time is a promise of a fullness;

not completeness (for if finished, time

would cease to be time), and not merely the

absence of time, which is equally nonsensical.

It would be a fullness, a time when

time is no longer of the essence, but is

content to be the context, the box in

which the gift is held, gathered, born;

a gift that transcends time and thus is

full of whatever the gift is to be, or was,

or is, often and usually at the same time.

But there I go speaking of time again, the

fullness left to wonder.

Timeless?

Let us hope...

Shadow Play

Shadows play with the mind,

not just the eyes, and often

play unfairly, seizing on

lifespan to set the scene,

to filter the present subtle shading

of uneven flesh through

bruises of clumsiness and cruelty;

cuts, deep and superficial;

blunt trauma and gifted surgery;

sun-scorch and wind-blow;

running mascara at the whim of

unbidden tears; smudges from

chocolate-laced fingers so much

like yours, only so much smaller;

masks, contrived and mandated –

shade upon shade, around curves,

transcending those spots of age

and crackling skin, or not, if

the span is yet short and the shadows

only the play of light on the eyes.

About the Author

Russell Willis

Facebook Website Instagram

Ethicist and online education entrepreneur, Russell Willis, emerged as a poet in January 2019 with the publication of three poems in The Write Launch. Since then, his poetry has been published in twenty-five online and print journals, and ten anthologies. Russell grew up in and around Texas, was vocationally scattered throughout the Southwest and Great Plains for many years, and is now settled in Vermont with his wife, Dawn.