The Kiss

The Kiss

Original Text

S. P. Zitner, Before We had Words (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2002): 21.

1They kissed. Or rather he kissed her,
2she turning deftly, offering a cheek
3to suffer osculation. Was this
4the slight physical antipathy
6to friendship across the genders
7 that now denied him lip on lip?
8Or was it her calculation
9of future perils--“Zip it, sailor”--
10here cannily prepared for?
11Yet she had deplored her garlicky
12salad and his sniffles. Perhaps she feared
13giving offense or catching cold.
14Or was she a lady who extended favors
15in Victorian increments:
16come summer, tepid whispers,
17by autumn, fingertips,
18and full surrender when desire froze?
19Or was it modesty? This was
20a public place. Or something out of Freud?
21Or . . . fool, enough; she’s waiting.
22But for what?


5] François VI, Duc de La Rochefoucald, Prince de Marcillac (1613-80) , author of the Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales (1665-78). Back to Line
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Copyright © McGill-Queen's University Press and used with its generous permission and with the agreement of Fred Tronly, the Poet's literary executor. Authorization to republish this poem must be obtained in writing.