Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Nina Kossman: While you wait for the music

While you wait for the music to open like a flower,
it is waiting for you to open yourself 
to the air from which it is made: this air is you,
the best part of you, the part that is music,
so that your air and the air of music 
can mingle like angels mingle with the sky,
or like a tiger that becomes one with the jungle,
or like a torch in the hands of a worshipper,
one with mystery,
or, like Persephone becomes one with the gate  
through which she must walk to Hades.

Listen: a torch of music, purple like a hyacinth in early spring,
Look: I am tone deaf, yet I beg for a song
that will carry me from spring to summer,
from summer to early autumn and then to death,
No, not the foam of Aphrodite but Demeter’s purple torch,
the mingling of the air and time at the instant 
when the daughter and the mother are one,
when the mother becomes the daughter 
and the daughter becomes an adult,
and the mother’s longing for the daughter, 
and the daughter’s parting from the mother
makes flowers everywhere bloom and wither, flower and wilt: 
It is open now, the gap in the air that will make you one with the music.
Do not resist it! Be silent! Carry the purple torch!


“Birth of the Last White Whale” (Painting by Nina Kossman)

Nina Kossman is a bilingual writer, poet, translator of Russian poetry, painter, and playwright. Among her published works are three books of poems in Russian and in English, two volumes of translations of Tsvetaeva’s poems, two books of short stories, an anthology she put together and edited for Oxford University Press, and a novel. Her work has been translated into Greek, Japanese, Hebrew, Spanish, Persian, and Dutch. She lives in New York.

Poem and image copyright 2021 Nina Kossman. All rights reserved.

4 comments on “Nina Kossman: While you wait for the music

  1. matt
    June 3, 2021

    outstanding work…the poem and the painting, each perched on an instant, each deeply vitalizing…together, overwhelming, speaking differently the same truth … “wait” is not really an option for any of us

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beth Peyton
    June 1, 2021

    Such a spectacular poem to remind me that music is coming soon. Now I’ll always think of my air mingling with it. Wonderful.

    Liked by 2 people

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This entry was posted on June 1, 2021 by in Art and Cinema, Environmentalism, Opinion Leaders, Poetry and tagged , .

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