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How to Go On | SSAATTBB Chorus a cappella | 35'

Lyrics are arranged in the movement order

in which they were premiered.



How can we go on, knowing the end

of the story? 

—Barbara Crooker,

excerpt from “Some Fine Day,”

The Pittsburgh Quarterly, 2007.


However difficult you think it might be,

it is yours, this life,

even the failures

are yours,

even the garden, though it be unkempt,

is yours. 

—Laura Foley,

excerpt from “Autumn Musings,”

Mapping the Fourth Dimension, 2006.


We need to separate to see

the life we’ve made.

We need to leave our house

where someone waits for us, patiently,

warm beneath the sheets.

We need to don a sweater, a coat, mittens,

wrap a scarf around our neck,

stride down the road,

a cold winter morning,  
and turn our head back, to see it—

perched on the top of the hill, our life

lit from inside. 

—Laura Foley



I am looking at pale blue ponds of melted ice

on a frozen river

and in them perfect clouds passing.

Wind sends ripples along the water

and trees cut sharp lines into the sky. Soon

it will be gone, all of it

and I will be sitting in darkness,

sitting by a dark window, glad

for having seen this earth,

her elegant grace,

how she turns away from the sun.

And I will be learning, again,

how to give it all up by simply turning.

How to give it up to darkness,

all you love. All of it.

How to give it up again and again.

—Laura Foley,

from Syringa, 2007.


Let us go, let go with the few roots

you have left clinging to this earth,

pull free, like the clean snap of a carrot

or radish, let us go, shake off this dirt,

let go, let go of your family, their story

hasn't been told, yours is already written,

let go of the world, its sweetness and sorrow,

let go of your friends, we will cry, yes,

but we will not forget you, let go,

let go your fierce will and stubbornness,

it served you well, now let it go,

your courage will remain, let your daughters

become women, your husband lie in his bed of pain,

your long journey is over, theirs is beginning,

let us go, become spirit and light, spring rain,

fly away from this prison of bone, let go,

wait for us, we'll talk again later,

I am here by the phone, waiting for the call,

for this long suffering to be over,

let it go, your work is done,

soon we will bring you to the river,

bring your ashes to the current, let them flow free,

earth, fire, cinders, rain, wait for us

on the other side of the river, let us go.

—Barbara Crooker,

from The White Poems, 2001.


How can we go on, knowing the end

of the story? 

—Barbara Crooker,

excerpt from “Some Fine Day,”

The Pittsburgh Quarterly, 2007.


Sometimes peace is like this:

endless and gentle and soft

and no compulsion to go

anywhere. And even the fire

you walked through,

even the trail of ashes

is gone, not even a memory

in your heart, and even the sun is still,

unmoving and quiet,

and you have stepped into

a place beyond time,

beyond sadness and form.

A wide, high plain

where in the endless, deep silence

you find out what it is, what it is,

and your part in it.

—Laura Foley


When at last I join the democracy of dirt,

a tussock earthed over and grass healed,

I’ll gladly conspire in my own diminishment. 
Let a pink peony bloom from my chest 

and may it be visited by a charm of bees, who will then carry the talcum of pollen
and nectar of clover to the grove where they hive.

Let the honey they make be broken

from its comb, and release from its golden hold,
onto some animal tongue, my soul. 

—Amy Fleury,

from Sympathetic Magic, 2013.

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