COMPOSTMODERNISM

For Aliisa Neige Barrière, to be performed during her Conducting diploma concert at Musiikkitalo, Helsinki. Premiered by actor Thomas Kellner, à la David Attenborough.


The way life circulates is by breaking life down into smaller pieces
and making new life out of them.
Some call this death. Some call it digestion. It’s a matter of perspective.
Of whether you are the one eating, or the one being eaten.

My father and my mother, they only donated two cells to me,
but more importantly they taught me (I mean passed on to me) the art of digesting.
The very first thing I learned when I was just a-little-cell-mass-in-the-womb
was how to secrete enzymes to break things down into nutrients I could absorb
and use as building blocks to grow into this person here.

As I walk in this forest, the forest is inside me.

Just like the enzymes in our digestive system
break down food into components that our body can use,
inside any ecosystem, chemicals dismantle life into pieces that other life feeds on.

In the soft ground crackling with dry leaves and branches under my feet,
bacteria, fungi, worms, and other invertebrates
make the forest digest and bloom, fueling the towering architecture of the trees.
They are called the decomposers.

You see, there are no composers on this floor.
These people who play and all of you listening,
together we are the de-composers.
This box in which we sit is an active compost.
Oh the heavy, fertile stench, you smell it too.
How warm it is, the effort, the sheer work,
hungry, loving, passionate,
of unmaking things so they may become part of us.
Creating chemical bonds through which we break the surface
of dead works to make them into life again.
And in us, as us, as the stuff that is us, they really are alive.

How green it is with shadows,
how full of scents of coal and rain,
the forest within us
that is the forest around us,
that we share, we the crowd of a thousand tongues,
the fruit of a thousand rounds of seasons,
rich with everything we have absorbed
each in the distinctive way that defines who we are.
We have roots and they are thirsty.
We the pirates, we the parasites.
We who study together how to decompose.

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