Under the Boughs

a Diva lyric experiment inspired by Wayne Koestenbaum’s “The Queen’s Throat”

The sun has set behind the hills. The inferno of the summer sky gradually diminishes through stages of crimson. The wind is up. The stage is set.

A boy crawls on his hands and knees, under the pine boughs and into the shelter of branch and needle. Lying on the soft brown bed, the sun’s power fails, surrendering to the power of ten million other suns, each further than the other. He is insignificant.

The house, a hill away, blends into the gloom. The light radiating from two windows stretch like silver chords anchoring the boy lest he float away into the darkness. He glances at those windows. Mother is there. She is standing over the sink. She is singing, but he cannot hear her.

He dwells inside the folds of her evergreen gown, shielded by her crinoline. There is no longer an ‘outside’, only here.

From somewhere the wind comes. To him, it is like the conductor tapping his wand on the lectern. Each of his hair follicles becomes erect. Then, she sings.

The very air becomes her voice, as it passes over and around her hundreds of thousands of fibers. Pitches rising and falling. Dynamic as a wave against rocks, and as silent as the breath of a mouse. Enchanted, his fingers push through the pile of her bedding. Through his spine he can feel her roots, in their black solitude. Gracefully, they keep her standing even against the strongest gale. She is temporarily immortal. He is her audience.

Seventeen years later, she was struck by lightning. Her trunk was split, her crown, lost, and her gown shredded. The man (who was once the boy) loves her even more now than he did then. He wipes away a tear that he hides from his wife, as he remembers the countless storms and seasons she withstood, and how her mystical voice sang for all the world to hear, but only he had listened.


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