First, in your seventies and alone, you read that those who
count such things say an average person kisses for a total
of two weeks in a lifetime. And you realize your two weeks
was up some time ago. Suddenly there is kissing everywhere
you look. And you learn that cows kiss and squirrels. Puffins,
snails and meerkats! And you are overcome with sorrow and
an overwhelming desire to kiss—to be kissed. And you learn
that's called basorexia and you have it. You watch the lips
of strangers in the supermarket—wonder if one would want
to kiss you. You know now that a minute of kissing burns
twenty-six calories and that a man lives up to five years
longer if he kisses his lover before he goes to work. You want
to tell someone that. And what's worse, unlike the first kiss,
the last slipped by unnoticed. It might have been
a spring day when daffodils answered the sun's invitation or
an autumn day when everything else was burning. Or simply
a day you took out the garbage, did a load of wash. Then, someone
comes and takes your hand and you remember words
to a song you thought you'd never hear again and you remember
all those sunsets you forgot to watch and the smell of woods in rain.
And you remember the river, the river—how it presses
its mouth again and again to the swollen sea.
This poem was first published by Terrapin Press in A Constellation of Kisses.