For the Daughter I May Never Have | TTBB Chorus & Piano |
Maya Jackson's text for Breathe in Hope began as two Facebook posts responding to the violent deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. Reading Maya's words, I was drawn to her call for action. When confronted with tragedy, we may instinctively search for hope and healing. In the face of violent injustice, though, maybe the hope we seek can only be found when we recognize our own accountability and ask what actions we can take to create lasting change.
Breathe in Hope was commissioned by the Los Angeles Children's Chorus, Anne Tomlinson, Artistic Director, for the 2017 Chorus America Conference.
For the Daughter I May Never Have
What can I say to you,
you who may never exist,
who would have my eyes,
enjoy what I detest, you
who would eat tomatoes like apples,
love soccer and tennis,
and pick the olives out of your salad?
Tell me how, as if this were simple:
where to go for dinner and what to order.
Nevermind how anyone decides anything
three days from an earthquake
and barely one mile from the fire;
I can hardly pick one dish,
let alone upend my life
for a girl who hates olives.
But wanting both lifetimes is not the same
as not wanting you, my dear,
who may or may not exist in the future,
you who would wrinkle our sheets,
sleep in, take large bowls of cereal
up to your room, forget to bring them
Tell me it’s selfish, choosing
airplanes and grand pianos
over you, my dear.
Tell me it’s selfish, you who would
inherit his teeth, smash glass on the stairs,
spit out words you’d regret,
and call me by my first name.
Sure, I would love you through broken glass,
names, teeth, and regret. But I am as certain
that I may not get the chance,
may refuse to lend you my ribcage
or say your name out loud.
Teach me how to swallow a fate
defined by the absence of you.
Teach me what I would become,
who you would be, if I were your—
tell me who I am. Give me
a lifetime to decide. Give me the life
I’ve chosen for both of us,
then forgive me and give me another.
early drafts & composing notes
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