my grandmother said
from The Long Walk
for mezzo-soprano and piano
2015 | 4"
Text by STEPHANIE FLEISCHMANN, based on the memoir by BRIAN CASTNER
Commissioned by American Lyric Theater
Text by STEPHANIE FLEISCHMANN
My grandfather died on the living room floor,
Ten years after he came back from the war.
World War Two killed him at home.
After he came back.
When my husband deployed to Iraq,
I went and asked. Grandma, I need to know:
How do I live with my husband gone?
Just me and the boys.
How do I help him
When he comes home?
"He won't come home," my grandmother said.
"The war will kill him either way.
He's as good as dead.
I hope for your sake he dies over there.
Because if the war doesn't kill him,
It'll take him here.
The war will kill him at home. With you."
But Grandma, I said. I won't live in dread.
He's coming home. And when he does,
Your story—it's not coming true.
Not on my watch. Not to this family.
It can't happen here. I'm going to keep us whole.