Sally Bliumis-Dunn

The Reckoning and 3AM
January 24, 2024 Bliumis-Dunn Sally



Shadows stretch across the pine floor
like a tide creeping higher on the beach
nearing the chairs where we sit in your apartment
as the water edges closer and closer.
If we could speak openly
I don’t think I would need to imagine an ocean
with a boat nearing the shore
to sense what remains unsaid
as barnacles that cling to a boat’s hull,
layer upon layer encrusted against
a once smooth bottom.
And the murmuration of starlings
which I can actually see outside your window
dipping and rising above the field
would not seem closer to articulation
than anything we can say.


3 AM


Worse than waking to his cries,
the dog’s low-throated moans
vibrate along the hard wood floors
all the way from the living room
up through the soles of my bare feet
as I stand to go and comfort him.
Four days later and still
his howls pool and eddy inside me,
as I wash the breakfast dishes,
place the purple asters in the fluted
China vase and walk the scrappy woods,
white pines towering
wind-blurred words flying
from their limbs like invisible birds
I have no way to name—
I am grateful to the dog
who has given grief a song.
What a long and wearing silence.
Can you hear me. I am singing.

Sally Bliumis-Dunn teaches at the 92nd Street Y and offers writing consultations. Her poems have appeared in the New York Times, Paris Review, PBS NewsHour, Plume, Poetry London, Prairie Schooner, RATTLE, the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-day and Ted Kooser’s “American Life in Poetry. In 2002, she was a finalist for the Nimrod/Hardman Pablo Neruda Prize. Her third book, Echolocation, was published by Plume Editions/MadHat Press in March of 2018 and was shortlisted for the Eric Hoffer Award, a longlist finalist for the Julie Suk Award and Runner Up for the Poetry By the Sea Best Book Award.