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  • Writer's pictureHeather Kropf

This Quiver of Arrows

Updated: Aug 10, 2023

I've been mulling over what it means to speak or not speak. This is a well-worn obsession of mine. A few years back I concluded that surrendering words for presence was much preferred. I neatly sorted it out in a song called Quiver and recorded a few live-to-vinyl versions at a little studio in Brooklyn called Leesta Vall. As our current cultural trend continues to adore the weaponization of words, I have found Quiver with its manifesto of rejecting the hunt remains one of my favorite songs. I hope some version of it makes it to an album someday.

illustration by Harriet Taylor Seed

As a lyric-writer, however, this preference for surrender over words puts me in a bit of a bind. How does one write? This preference, combined with my past few years of brain issues from a biotoxin illness, has meant I haven’t written much recently or known what to say.

Then, along comes the past 3.5 years where forces have sought to silence expressions of all kinds. As a shy person, I know all the tricks of repression and I can tell you that suppression feels awfully familiar, and not in a good way. It’s a heavy thumb and it makes you crazy inside. I started feeling all those familiar crazy stirrings. Thinking surely we wouldn't tolerate this, I looked around for a swell of concern and it was eerily silent….which made me even crazier. Was I trapped in a bell jar? Words too easily turned into blades, into dry data with spikes on its edges, with people parroting and borrowing and speaking from anywhere but the heart. I saw words lose their juiciness, their poetry, their truthiness, metaphor and mystery. We've gotten blood thirsty for a hunt, and probably a bit reckless.

So I’ve changed my mind about surrendering words for presence. At the moment I'm in favor of being more bold with language, rejecting the chase entirely by allowing words to flow, blooming as some kind of strange, alien flower which fills the planet like a giant conservatory of exotic, fragile, sensual, personal, brilliant, and alive sound and meaning. Let's allow words to be more than a scarlet letter.

I have more to say on this -- and maybe some new songs are in order -- but for now I just wanted to start writing about it because it matters. It seems like it should be obvious, but if you weaponize your words, expect shields.

(a rough bootleg of Quiver from a live-to-vinyl recording, unapologetically low-fi to preserve the value of the original recording for the person who owns this copy. It's me on keys and singing and Chris Parker on electric guitar)

Quiver © 2017

Over my shoulder

This quiver of arrows

For the hunter’s bow

One for truth,

One for killing

One for love for the unwilling

I keep them to myself

Lay them at your feet

I would not draw my hand

Diana at the crossroads

Walks the high mountain path

So I follow

With this quiver of arrows

Then we saw you waiting there

She took aim

But I keep them to myself

You would not be helped

I lay them at your feet

Would not draw my hand

To change the life blood of a man

Or make the canyon echo

Make the canyon echo

I know you have a quiver, too

Maybe it’s me who’s been hanging around

Wondering what you might do

Would you do what I do?

I know you have a quiver, too

Maybe it’s me who’s the one who’s been hanging around

Wondering what you might do

Would you do what I do?

Would you?

Would you keep them to yourself?

‘Cause I would not be helped

Would you lay them at my feet?

Would you take a stand?

We neither the hunter nor the hunted

You would not draw your hand

To change the life blood of all I am

Or make the canyon echo

Make the canyon echo


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