Etude No. 2 and Etude No. 3


Rome, Italy

Etude no. 2

in Rome a monumental marble typewriter
ticked out their story into the sky: two lovers

devour time. she lay on the lawn near Trajan’s
column. he plucked letters from her dress,

her hair, served them to her by hand, by mouth.
they covered themselves with a blank sheet as history

rained around them, crescendo, all those centuries
since the Punic wars. an opera buffa of marches,

drum cadences, bugle calls and fanfares pulled
the lovers back and forward across year zero.

they embraced a different melody, dolce, lento.
under the blanket, he tasted of ageless earth.

she filled the staff of his ribs with eighth notes.
poco a poco, he erased manifestos from her hip.


Vienna, Austria

Etude no. 3

from the cosmos, there is no difference
between the observatory and the temple,

between witness and worship. he awoke
with a brain full of stars. in an apartment high

above Vienna, the duft of breakfast lilacs
filled a small kitchen, like gas from an oven.

at the table, she closed her eyes, circled her neck
in linen. he set a 3/4 time signature

of mis-matched cups and saucers on Monday’s
altar. seven o’clock matins. diminuendo

clouds floated by. broken chords of slow traffic
on the street. a soft measure of legato punctuated

by a quarter note retreat. they drank. one last sip
at lips before the sharp stab of departure.

Kim Curts Mattheussens studied English and German literature at Ball State University, the Katholische Universität Eichstätt, and WWU Münster, and creative writing at the Bluegrass Writers Studio at Eastern Kentucky University. She is an alum of the DISQUIET International Literary Program in Lisbon. Her poem, “Etude no. 1,” was shortlisted for the 2022 Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize. Her work is published or forthcoming in The Athena Review, Punt Volat, Southword Literary Journal and The Common, among others. She lives in Los Angeles.

Photos by the author.

Etude No. 2 and Etude No. 3

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