i remember

text by Cortlandt Matthews and members of Portara Ensemble

written for Portara Ensemble


SSAATTBB with SATB soloists. a cappella.



I remember standing at the front door,
watching for daddy to come home from work.
I would squeal with delight when I saw him walking up the front steps.
This is one of my earliest memories.

I was twenty-two.

I remember flying back to Nashville when I lived in Chicago.
Having been an Air Force kid, I never had strong associations of any particular place being "home."
But on this occasion, as I saw the hills around Nashville from the air, I had that feeling of coming home for the first time.

I remember sitting with my Grandfather on a picnic table in his backyard talking to the birds while we fed them.
I remember feeling safe and loved.
I was 5 years old.

I remember being cooped up in my house on bed rest after breaking my leg.
Though I usually enjoyed my time at home, I felt like I was under lockdown. One evening, I was finally allowed to have one friend over, and he helped me escape for an evening of freedom.
I crutched down the stairs and out the front door, slamming it loudly as I left.
I remember feeling rebellious and triumphant.
I was 16 years old.

I was 36.
I remember bringing my son home for the first time.
I remember my joy and my fear.

I remember coming home from high school.
As I came in the door of the kitchen
my mother would be there, and I would hug her
and we would dance around the kitchen together.

I remember the day my mother died.
I was 39.
I remember feeling unmoored... my first home - was gone.

I remember being 9 years old.
we moved out of the first house I lived in.
We gave it a hug and kiss as we left.

I remember
as a child living with my parents on the University of Utah campus when my father was getting his PhD in chemistry.

We lived in the married housing on campus which were converted army barracks, a very humble two-room shack with heat only in the front section.
My brother and I had bunk beds in the rear unheated room standing against the outside wall.

I had the top bunk with my mattress next to the window.
The window was the type that tilted out so in the cold Utah winters I would lay there in my bed with the moon shining down and everything still and quiet, as a snow-covered night does, and reach out and grab a sparkling icicle hanging from the edge of the roof, then snap one off for my brother below.

I remember us laying there together.
We were crunching and munching in the cold moonlight, warm as we could get under our blankets with frost trying to gain a toehold on our happy faces. I thought to myself how rich I was to have such a luxury...
I knew no other boys anywhere in the world were able to eat icicles in their bed.


  • 6/3/2018 (premiere)

    • Portara Ensemble - cond. Patrick Dunnevant

    • Glenncliff United Methodist Church - Nashville, TN

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