Portraits (A Song Cycle for Soprano and Piano)
based on poetry by Emily Herring Wilson
Dan Locklair

All texts used in Portraits are from Arise Up and Call Her Blessed by Emily Herring Wilson and published by Iron Mountain Press (1982). All words, painting poetic portraits of these Southern, African-American women, are used with the kind permission of the poet and copyright holder, Emily Herring Wilson.

I.Ernestine Saunders – ca. 2’ 30”
II.Unknown – ca. 1’ 15”
III.Brooksie Malloy – ca. 1’ 15”

Total cycle duration = ca. 5 minutes

Dan Locklair

I. Ernestine Saunders

So many years I spent dreaming
of France. In Paris they called
me Mademoiselle! Mademoiselle!
I was walking on air.

In Alabama, in my buried world,
shopkeepers passed me on the
street and did not
see me.

Their hats were raised to others.
And I walked in the shadows where
they could ignore me and could not
say my name familiar on their lips:

II. Unknown

Who made the fire, her face
alive in the glow.
Who made the bread, her hands
light with the kneading.
Who walked to the spring
and poured cool water.
Who asked books of the teacher,
light from the morning,
flowers from the sun.
Who shall have
peace at the last.


III.Brooksie Malloy

And I was baptized
in the Dan River,
and the folks they was singing,
and I was saved,

Thank you, Jesus, saved!
And out of that water,
it was cold water, I
waded to touch the shore

Where I held myself
tight in the arms of Jesus,
and I ran, I ran
shouting up the road!

Emily Herring Wilson