Poetry by Nina Kossman


Know, mother, your son shall die,
before you, in torment,
the apple of your eye,
a promise fulfilled
before the first lullaby,
the fruit of your womb
pierced by the sky.
Be still, young mother,
in woe and grief,
virtue and poverty
in stillness and song
and unmistaken delight:
still your soul
your body
your soul


In this second decade of the third millennium
born three times of the tree of flesh,
fallen thrice from its empty branches,
the diaphanous heap of water,
red from the maternal sea,
syllables of my name rushing to rescue
your lips
your lips are trying to form as my name-
“complaints of the wind over the heap
of bones”-
this be my name in this life:
The Sky Rushing to Meet the Water.
Stony water
colored by wind,
chiseled by the light fallen off your eyelids:
one moment is all in the silence of the newborn.
Now take a pitcher,
pour out small echoes, equally
onto the earth,
onto the scorpio fortress,
upon the transparent stones,
and the motionless flame at the door.
Dipping my cheekbones
into the blind substance,
into the cooling water of the maternal yes,
I, river of your body,
I, the tightrope of fear your body walks,
return to you nightly, motionless,
daily, nightly
I bury both hands in your solitude:
answer me in your valley of closed eyes.
Salt of the earth in a sunflower seed,
salt on the leaves of the tree of destruction,
salt opening and closing
like a flower,
labyrinth I must pass
to close my eyelids with your fingers of sleep
to open yours with my fingers of clay and water.
In the second decade of the third millennium,
hallucination of flame on the face of a child,
the guardian of the child’s aerial dreams,
all of his breaths now a single breath,
all of his words an unending sentence,
I split myself into parallel moons,
I spill myself into a bowl of blood-
You will see me the salt of your body,
you will hear me think in your thoughts…
When I offer to you one face of the moon, you know:
my face is the face eaten away
by years of sickness and hunger,
face of a child who died
fifty years ago.

Poetry by Nina Kossman

Nina Kossman is a bilingual writer, poet, translator of Russian poetry, painter, sculptor, and playwright. Among her published works are three books of poems, two volumes of translations of Tsvetaeva’s poems, two collections of short stories, an anthology published by Oxford University Press, and a novel. 

About the contributor

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