Aliceheimer’s libretto


Last night I dreamed I had broccoli growing out of my ears! Broccoli! Giant broccoli!

So now my belly aches and breaks and shakes But all that grows from my ears

To fill me to fool me

into being full is broccoli Giant stalks

One from each ear But I know the truth

Apples would be better Juicy apples

Magic apples Ever bearing.

I could pluck one and eat it

and more would grow ever bearing magic apples But I know the truth

I want ice cream You scream

Its sweet coolness slides down my throat and its summer

and she’s here again the ship’s gone

and the water too

sev oolig

we drive down a hill past a barn multitudes of sheep on the fields

brown and white

sev oolig black sheep

a tiny black bundle for me to cuddle her soft ringlets tickle me

I hold her in my arms until

one lamb’s head

severed and boiled appears

Its hard eyes stare from sockets Mama tells me I’m lucky

not to be starving

not to march in the desert skin and bones


Mama says I’m lucky to have food

in front of me on our table.

But I know the truth.

Rose eats it.

I don’t

I can wait

for something else

And she’s here again driving me

Its hot and there’s a giant cone As tall as a man

The sign by the road says creamee Ahhhhh

I’m so hungry

I could eat them all

Act I Scene 2

She’s here again

She appears like magic I never know when.

I don’t know why she’s here.

I know her name. That stays the same. I know she’s kind.

She reads my mind. She helps me dress. She cleans my mess.

I don’t know why she’s here.

Why are you so good to me? Because I’m your mother?

How could I not know this?

Soft and steady,

the fairy dust falling from scalp, to heart, to vocal chords,

I wasn’t very good to you. I’m sorry.

The small hard

stone of shame in me melts, then evaporates. I am light,

filled with fairy dust and she’s still here. I’m not sure why But I’m glad.

Fairy dust surrounds us,

falls from scalp to heart to toes

Act 1 Scene 3 DAVE

There’s Dave! In a tree

What’s he doing up there? Dave!

Love of my life Come down. I’m here

On the ground A city kid Remember?

I hate camping

You tried to make me like it. But I don’t climb trees

I don’t cook on campfires.

It’s as if a curtain dropped I remember nothing after our first year.

My bones tell me now It was forever

That I knew you. Come down Dave Come down.

On our first date after a ball game

and a long conversation about Darwinian evolution and reproductive success,

You got me to sneak into a reservoir.

Were we in our skivvies? We went to a ball game. What happened next After our first year

I don’t know

It’s as if a curtain dropped I remember nothing

But you were always with me. And now you live in tree tops. And I don’t climb trees.

I’m a city kid.

Remember? Come down, Dave Come down.

Tell me what’s happening Why don’t I remember?

I know I feel you with me still Living in the tree tops.

He always loved the woods Now he lives in tree tops

It’s as if a curtain dropped I remember nothing

after that first year with Dave The love of my life

He always loved the woods And me

We Camping

I hated camping

Now he lives in tree tops

We snuck into a reservoir and swam one night Our first date

Act 1 Scene 4 PIRATES

Pirates! Pirates! Pirates!

Run for your lives! It’s pirates! Those lousy pirates

Kept me on the island For a whole week.


Fed me nothing. Not a biscuit Not a crumb

scrap of hardtack or sip of rum.

Me a lowly prisoner with nothing

While they ate and drank and sang their pirate songs Lusty buccaneers, hey!

One of them the Pirate King

it is, it is a glorious thing you know and I was Queen

Till he threw me below deck

He nearly broke my neck with his rage But it’s just a stage because soon

he will love me again.

You! You get into that bed right now, because if I’m not pregnant by morning, they’ll kill us both. But I know the truth

It’s summer

and she’s here again the ship’s gone

the water too We’re in a car down a hill past a barn

Where are we? How did I get here?”

My little sirelis, my daughter

who looks like me in the dark.

Promise me you’ll do something else when it gets too hard.”


I get shivers when she touches me.

A promise without words

She’s here again, driving me

Why am I here?

Where are we going?

Act I Scene 5 Mama No!

Mama no!

Don’t send me out there!

All the people point and stare at Antranig

his slanted eyes his silly grin His flat nose people taunting staring jeering

look at the little idiot, idiot, idiot.” sing song

like on the bus and at the park.

I can’t block them out.

I want to shout and punch.

and tell them “shut up, Shut Up, SHUT UP!”

Mama, please listen to me. Rose never cares what people say.

Make her go with him while you and I work.

Mama, mama, can’t you see even though I’m little

I can scrub the floor. I’m close to the ground for scrubbing.

I know your frozen hands can’t do it your skin so cracked,

pain unspoken.

See, Mama, see, look at me!

I pull the bucket up, up almost over the edge of the tub then it slips

sudsy gray water spreads across the floor

Mama shouts to Rose to clean it up

my cheeks red with shame. Rose pushes me and Antranig out the door

Why can’t you be nice to him? He’s innocent.

He can’t help it.

You’re a greedy

self-centered thing.”

But I wasn’t.

I was just little and smart

and I could see he held us back.

We’d never be good Americans As long as we had Antranig.

I carry him down six flights. I set him on the floor.

I carry his buggy down the stoop, stick him inside, cover his face

We cross the street

to where Mama can see from her chair

her baby boy and me safe from Turks while Rose works.

A fairy meets me at the corner Her hair golden

her dress and eyes so blue.

I smile at this stranger

who helps me at the curb, me, the little girl

with curls like Shirley Temple pushing a buggy

that she has barely outgrown with a broken baby

named for a general.

Act 1 Scene 6 Time

I gave her signs. It is time.

It is time.

It is time.

Once upon a time I was fine.

Inside my head as sharp as ever, but unable to speak

what I know in my heart:

It is time.

At last, at last

she reads the sign I left for her.

Once upon a time.

I am fine no longer.

She tells me

I going to live at a school Smart little Alice Teacher’s pet

pushed ahead and ahead

used every ounce of school girl smarts to show her heart remembered

once upon a time.

Oh good. I love school.

I love school.

I love school.

I tried to love it.

But it is cruel.

They starve me.

They lock me in my room.

They come each day to torture me. Strangers strip me naked.

They starve me.

They must have banned my fairy. I don’t see her any more.

So I watch with eagle eye the elevator door

at the end of the hall open shut

white coats in and out

sometimes towing a prisoner. I wait,

like a hunter tracking my prey ready for the very moment

it is open and unguarded.

I run fast slip in

Doors shut me in

and with the touch of one button G yes G

for ground floor I am FREE!!!!!

Act 2 Scene 1

Free outside

In grass and light Breath it in

Feel my might!

Run for cover.

Out of sight.

Must find food. But they catch me wrap me tight Encase my arms Erase my face

Crazy, crazy!”

Yes they say it. Body writhing Belly aching tongue sticks out. legs still kicking

Stop it! Stop it!

Crazy, crazy!”

Yes they say it. Tongue sticks out I spit

I bite

My legs kick them

While they’re saying “She’s not fit

to be with others.”

I am writhing under covers

They poke my arm they hold my legs

Crazy, crazy!”

They still mutter as my body

spits and sputters. Tongue starts numbing limbs lose power thinking thickens

eyes get sleepy I still hear them

She’s not fit to be with others. [fade]

She’s not fit to be with others. She’s not fit . . .

Act II Scene 2

Waken in a prison, reason bruised, arms crimson, treason the crime.

Soon it hit me like the truck I wished on those I hated.

I would have been elated had that come to pass.

So kiss my ass!

I’m passing empty gas in prison.

Head exploding with my wrath while tongue and mouth

can’t form the words.

In prison with my belly aching, hunger carving through my bones. But soon it hits me like that truck. I’m in prison and I’m starving.

Feed me! Feed me!

Feed me, feed me!

Ah, you’re awake.

Welcome, dear.”

Feed me, feed me!

She returns with treats and fruits and sweets, Meatballs, spaghetti and chocolate cake.

All I could eat.

She calls me dear.

And just like magic All is better.

They let me out.

They washed my sweater.

Act II Scene 3

I own this place. Its spacious, grand bowls of fruit

on every stand. Whenever I am so inclined

to eat a grape,

I don’t pluck one, instead I snap

a dainty twig,

I never leave

a ragged stem behind.

Back and forth around the realm. Out the in door. In the outdoor.

Through my garden full of grace

all my workers in their place.

All who live here pay me rent.

The happy young ones work for me. They set me up to paint each day.

They savor every word I say. I’m Queen of Ping Pong here. I’m the Queen of singing.

I never have to sweep the floor chop an onion

close a door

or do the laundry grade exams

add up numbers till the land.

Back and forth around the realm. Out the in door. In the outdoor.

Through my garden Full of grace

all my workers in their place. Dave, Dave, this ring is broken. Dave!

I’m still whole. I’m still whole. I’m still whole.

Fran! It’s you!

You were at my wedding! Do you work here now? Lab partners, best friends,

Albany State Teachers College. It was a small wedding.

Did you get my letters, Fran? Forgive me, Fran.

I was too afraid to visit you when we moved south because of the Klan.

People said that I was passing. Forgive me.

Lesson plans, teaching class cooking, cleaning, done at last. Now I’m regal.

Back and forth around the realm. Out the in door. In the outdoor.

Through my garden full of grace,

I own this place with so much space. Full of grace.

I’m the Queen, the Queen, the Queen.

Act II Scene 4 [a carer gives Alice a baby doll to hold Alice in a walker now]

Hey, Mama!”

Fran calls me. “Hey, Mama!”

They all call me. Tease me

Wash me

Like it when I joke. “Hey, Mama!”

Baby Mama, Baby Mama, Baby Mama, Baby Mama, Baby,

Baby. Who’s who?

I don’t know. “Hey, Mama!”

You’re good” I tell them “You’re good”

They wash me . Feed me.

Dress me.

Love me.

Brush my hair.

Brush my teeth. Wipe my bottom underneath.

But they all call me Mama “Hey Mama.”

Me. “Hey Mama.”

You’re good.

When I’m the baby, makes no sense that I’m the Mama, present tense,

But I love them and they love me.

Hey Mama!”

Her Mama died

when she was twelve. Her Mama lives in Ghana

Her Mama beat her in Vermont. Her Mama watches her kids while she takes care of me.

Hey, Mama!”

Fran calls out. “Hey, Mama!”

They all call me. Tease me.

Wash me.

Like it when I joke. Baby Mama,

Baby Mama, Baby Mama, Baby Mama, Baby,


Baby Mama. Who’s who? I don’t know.

But they all call me Mama. Me.


When I’m the baby. Mama.

Makes no sense. “Hey, Mama!”

Act 2 Scene 5 Final Desserts

Papa oor e?

Where’s Papa?


I must tell Papa I’m sorry

I hurt Antranig. I will see Papa when I die.

I can tell him.

Dawn comes to the island Sun and waves

And ice cream.

Death has breath.

I die!

I die!

I die!

Papa oor e?


Death and myth, myth and breath.

I am awake, awake, awake.

There’s peach cobbler in heaven.

There’s ice cream and whipped cream. There’s poetry.

In heaven we will wear flowers tucked behind our ears.

Act 2 Scene 6 Death

Like a Queen Bee deep in the hive

surrounded by my sons and daughters, worker bees, the Mamas,

hundreds of them, tend me feed me, wash me,

turn me, love me make the honey.

Honey. Megh. Honey. Dave.

Holy honey. Soorp megh. Soorp, soorp.

Still I stay.

My heart beats strong, Waiting long,

Hanging on,

Waiting for the fairy. And here she is.

All my daughters, all my sons,

they come one by one.

The window open for my soul to rise.

Heart stops beating, blood stops flowing, but I am still here

in that hot core of my body.

One by one

they feel me there, show their care.

The open window and their love

let me rise, let me rise, rise,