Home > Poetry > Why Did the Kissing Start?
Published: Wed Jul 1 2009
Wosene Worke Kosrof, The Inventor V (detail), 2022, acrylic on linen. Courtesy of Sullivan Goss Gallery, Santa Barbara, California
Why Did the Kissing Start?

Because of leavings:  silt-drift, silica
that falls and turns to rock in us.

Because we are foolish and will not last.

Because in the murk of dusk
she trilled to the bats in Italian.
Because she is pretty.

O my armada, in a minute
you were sunk, ocean closing
over the cannons and intricate rigging,
swift gift of absolution and forgetting.

Great blue herons, thruways—because
of them, because of the glut of comets
and eclipses amid which we have no choice.

Because we have blood in us and do not own it.

Because her imagination is a forest
with a fox in it, fur silver-tipped, glimpsed
and gone.  Because we are unaffirmed.

Because we are death’s pretty children
and task her patience.  Because the heart

buries its losses again and again
till longing shocks it:  bright sun
breaking upon a white-washed necropolis.

Chris Forhan is the author of three books of poetry: Black Leapt In (Barrow Street, 2009); The Actual Moon, The Actual Stars (Northeastern, 2003); and Forgive Us Our Happiness (University Press of New England, 1999). He has won a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and two Pushcart Prizes, and his work appears in The Best American Poetry 2008. He lives with his wife, the poet Alessandra Lynch, in Indianapolis, where he teaches at Butler University. (updated 6/2009)

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