Heart Butte, Montana | SATB Chorus & Mezzo-Soprano Soloist | 7'
Dale Trumbore met poet M.L. Smoker in April 2022, when they were both Artists in Residence at Ucross Foundation in Clearmont, Wyoming. Smoker's poem embodies a landscape that initially appears unforgiving, but ultimately offers a chance to find a way home—“to become bird, tree, water again.” The town of Heart Butte is located on the southern border of Montana's Blackfeet Indian Reservation.
Heart Butte, Montana was commissioned by Choral Arts Initiative, Brandon Elliott, Artistic Director, and will premiere at the 2024 Western ACDA conference. This work is dedicated to CAI, with gratitude to soloist Genie Hossain.
Purchase link coming soon.
HEART BUTTE, MONTANA
The unsympathetic wind, how she has evaded me for years now,
leaving a guileless shell and no way to navigate. Once when I stood
on a plateau of earth just at the moment before the dangerous,
jutting peaks converged upon the lilting sway of grasslands, I almost
found a way back. There, the sky, quite possibly all the elements,
caused the rock and soil and vegetation to congregate. Their prayer
was not new and so faint I could hardly discern. Simple remembrances,
like a tiny, syncopated chorus calling everyone home: across
a thousand eastward miles, and what little wind was left at my back.
But I could not move. And then the music was gone.
All that was left were the spring time faces of mountains, gazing down,
their last patches of snow, luminous. I dreamed of becoming snow melt,
gliding down the slope and in to the valley. With the promise,
an assurance, that there is always a way to become bird, tree, water again.
—M.L. Smoker. "Heart Butte, Montana" from New Poets of Native Nations.
Copyright © 2018 by M. L. Smoker. Reprinted by permission of M. L. Smoker.