Ohne (Without)

Music by Russ Callison, text by Sarah Perske; performed by Sarah Perske (voice) and Russ Callison (guitar)

This piece was part of a collaboration between Nebula Ensemble and Wild Beautiful Orchestra in November 2020. The members of Nebula Ensemble divided into small groups of performers who collaboratively wrote a text reflecting their experiences in 2020 and their hopes for the future, and set it to music. After a brainstorming session that included discussion of the feeling of living “out of time” or having been torn away from one’s own life timeline, I wrote the poem below which Russ adapted and set to music. The music video features my childhood dollhouse and collection of antique dolls.


There is no now in my now;
I wait for yesterday.  
The moment arrived
and was snatched away
just as I reached
for the life I’d built.
Now I wait for yesterday.
It is coming back around, slowly, like the turning of the earth.
But it will not be 
the yesterday I left behind.
When it comes, 
it will be the season I sought, 
but in a new hemisphere.
The words I meant to utter 
will at last leave my tongue, 
but in a new language. 
And still I’ll wait for yesterday, 
for a face loved and lost
changed to a stranger’s face
whose eyes will strain in that new land
to find my own.