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Sharon Kennedy-Nolle


Bolero/Torero by Antonio Mancini

Opening the double closet doors,
stirred fine fibers rise,
saffron-sized nibs dust the floors
green-silver kinks, dirt? sand?
grits my steps to stop.

I reach for that bold bolero jacket I so love
—always autumn alive—in its burning colors
(bought during our first year in Paris,
when we were a young family).

Now my arm enters a sleeve of air,
bright red, indigo, orange threads, dangling, titter color,
the back mostly out, an ozone-sized hole,

and my best dress (Christmas gift from when
my husband loved me hard)
I wore it every year,
full-length Lauren, smart red and black plaid,
crimson-silk lined, black velvet buttons, cuff and collars

stands thinned, light-lined, a ghost pine.

Remember the mothballs!

Mother always said with Pearl Harbor recall,
but I lapsed
in the year of pandemic PJ time.

Now frass fills drawers.
Big black bags, the unsalvageable
trashed, how did I lose
so much stashed life?

Evacuated to the porch, they all hang wrong,
scarred by sunshine,
accessorized by marshmallowy cocoons,
silver webbing, a gum-stuck glint on my purple brocade,
larval cardigans with pockets bottomed out.

Living in Bedford, a neighborhood where it’s a fineable sin
to hang a duvet out to air,

my shredded shrouds sway accusingly:

holes, holes, howl
old years in the air,

they ask next for my corpse. 

Moth-mouthed, I taste this dust-paste,
fingertip a wingless death.


About the writer:
A graduate of Vassar College, Sharon Kennedy-Nolle received an MFA from the Writers’ Workshop as well as a doctoral degree in nineteenth-century American literature from the University of Iowa. She also holds MAs from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University and New York University. In addition to scholarly publications, her poetry has appeared in many journals. Chosen as the 2020 Chapbook Editor’s Pick by Variant Literature Press, Black Wick: Selected Elegies was published in 2021. Kennedy-Nolle was winner of the New Ohio Review’s 2021 creative writing contest. In 2023 her manuscript Not Waving was a semi-finalist for the Two Sylvias Press Wilder Prize, University of Wisconsin Poetry Series’ Brittingham, and Felix Pollak Prizes, and the Brick Road Poetry Contest. Not Waving has been named a finalist for the Laura Boss Narrative Poetry Award. Recently appointed the Poet Laureate of Sullivan County for 2022-2024, she lives and teaches in New York. Kennedy-Nolle has been awarded a Poet Laureate Fellowship for 2023-2024 from the Academy of American Poets.

Image: Bolero/Torero by Antonio Mancini (1852-1930). Pastel on paper applied on silk canvas. Between 1911-17. By free license via Antoine Ego.


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