for voice and piano

Text by
Dana Gioia

I. Accomplice
II. Parts of Summer Weather
III. The Heart of the Matter
IV. The End of a Season


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I. Accomplice

In dusty fields I harvested the vine

And sweated at the lever as the grapes were pressed.

My aching hands still clutched their vagrant wages,

Sleeping in the cold barracks of the dispossessed.

But now at dawn, beyond the reach of reason,

I wake in the chateau between your tangled sheets,

My sunburnt arm across your naked shoulder,

The mute accomplice of our mutual defeat.

II. Parts of Summer Weather

The window open and the summer air

drifts slowly through the darkened room.

The curtains lift enough to see

a starless night and heavy moon.

Upstairs a radio plays out

the songs we've overheard together

so many nights now that they seem

like one more part of summer weather.

And under darkness and the breeze

with sheets and blankets stripped away

we lie in silence saying more

than anything we hoped to say.

And yet I wake an hour later,

reach out and find myself alone.

No words spoken, no message left,

the room so quiet, and you gone.

III. The Heart of the Matter

The heart of the matter, the ghost of a chance,

A tremor, a fever, an ache in the chest.

The moth and the candle beginning their dance,

A cool white sheet on which nothing will rest.

Come sit beside me. I've waited alone.

What you need to confess I already know.

The scent of your shame is a heavy cologne

That lingers for hours after you go.

The dregs of the bottle, the end of the line,

The laggard, the loser, the last one to know.

The unfinished book, the dead-end sign,

And last summer's garden buried in snow.

You stand by the window and follow the cars

As their headlights climb the hill's black dome,

The lives that they carry are distant as stars,

And none will return to carry us home.

IV. The End of a Season

I wanted to tell you how I walked tonight

down the hillside to the lake

after the storm had blown away

and say how everything suddenly seemed so clear

against the sparkling, rain-soaked streets

cold and bright as starlight.

I wanted to wake you up, despite the hour,

and drag you out into the dark

crisp air to feel the end of winter,

the cold we cursed so long

slipping away – and suddenly so precious

now that it was leaving.

But there is no one to come back to now,

only the night, its wind and rain, the chill

magnificence of its borrowed light,

the touch of this impossible season.