Sally Bliumis-Dunn

Three Poems
June 22, 2023 Bliumis-Dunn Sally



I was four or five, bored by the dull terrain
of my body, those heavy afternoons
when I was told to “nap.” Through my flowered
curtains, tilting shadows of branches
reminded me of my own slender
shadow on the sand, looking through the sheet
of water as a wave drew back, seeing the dark swirls
of indigo mussel shells.  And then just after,
the bed of still wet sand would flare. Or this
is what I remember seeing in my mind,
one of those long afternoons,
when the back of my right thumb and forefinger
opened the soft folds,
and my middle fingertip found
the small mound of you that first time—
as though I had heard singing
in a far-off grove, thrilled,
approached and heard the new
clearer notes, undistorted by distance
or the thick weave of branches.





Was it the full-length mirror in the tacky-posh hotel
that held us naked in its flourished golden frame,
or maybe the slick white dresser and rococo headboard
lined with plush pillows, or the black and silver
wallpaper stripes that ran from floor to ceiling
like a cage lit by moon in a darkness held at bay
beyond this room where the lascivious chandelier
lit us as though on a stage where we act our rawest selves
in an unfamiliar room that begged us and begged us more
with its tasseled brassy breath?



“Those days, if I consider them disjointed from what came later”

after Diane Seuss



like my grandmother’s pearl plastic pop-it beads, the clean
click when one bead’s nub snapped free of the next bead’s catch.
Those early years of my first marriage. If only I could
snap them free from all that followed and keep them
as a gathering of loose beads in a bowl, collecting tranquil
dust that I see only if the morning sun slants
a particular angle. Those days when the clockwork
of our lives ticked within the bindings of our books
whose characters seemed more alive than the plants
in the kitchen window. And our son had not been born
unhappy. And the letters of your Russian tongue eddied
and swirled and I still thought that I could wait for them to settle
like sand settles on the bottom near the shore
when the water finally calms.

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.