by Kimberly Nunes 


Dusk shadows of branches and leaves
are timorous patterns
on the golden wall.
Inside her head she swims
a red river as violet eyes drift
in and out of context.

Again, she is luminous halo
absorbing and fading—
light to dark to light
down the ombréd hall

where a dead mouse floats
in its watery bowl—
presents the tail
then swivels to head. She knows this to be
the snout of her soul.

In the portrait on the wall
her head’s thrust back
in gray strokes, the mouth red,
eyes and visage, frozen.
Breasts flag in brown
charcoal outline.

Her clavicle, angular
and throat taut, where time
is the jewel she wears thin.


This summer I learned about loneliness.
Hear me out, I know the difference
between solitude and loneliness.

Solitude is a secret you want to keep.

Loneliness happens when you return from a trip
and find yourself in Safeway at 10 pm,
and find your basket filled
with frozen dinners for one
and twelve dollar bottles of wine.


There is a man who has lived alone
in a perfect house
most of his life. The floor shines.
His sweaters are stacked by color.
The car leather smells new.

He has someone to hack the weeds away
around the garden.

His says old age is like being a newborn babe
half in the place they came from
before birth, and learning to go back.


The clouds are white tablets floating in blue
above the park out my window
and my husband’s voice comes through

the black phone at the corner of the desk
to say we should talk about property—

who will care for the house before it falls down,
and the problem with money,
there is always less.

                                                He says,

have you met someone, have you met someone?
The volume, now, too loud. 

And I have no power to rise from this chair.
The clouds are in my belly, and they hold me down.


In the opera last night
there was the usual hero
and the long note held—
as he was thinking,

thinking he would save the girl
from fire, wake her
from a long, fine sleep
as flames crept toward her bed.

He appeared sincere, but took his time
to get to her. First,
he had to sing
until she nearly burned—

she’s almost gone
and the violins plead.

While in the real world,
these moments endure beyond the realm of an hour,
beyond the gaze
of any lead actor.

The girl becomes the maiden, becomes
a sullen queen—
on the stage,
in the New York apartment,
the abandoned house back home.


            At the head of the bed
two Hermes neckties
with loops for wrists,
one pale yellow with thin red stripes,
the other is gray with green dots.

                        And on the bench
at the foot of the bed,
a large venous silicone phallus
in chocolate brown.

            It’s a gift, he had said,
as the woman tore at the wrapping paper,
a new designer clutch to carry around.

            Outside, the windy tree circled
and scraped branches on the window
like a hand clawing at glass,

            and the man said, Venus,

About the Author:

Kimberly Nunes holds a bachelor’s degree in French and several master’s degrees, including her MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College, 2013. Some of her poems have been published in journals such as The Alembic, Caveat Lector, Mantis, Marin Poetry Center Anthology, The Madison Review, and WomenArts Quarterly.