Kiss of Death

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Contributor: Gale Acuff

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Why don't you close your eyes when you kiss me,
my wife asks, just after we do. And how
do you know I don't, I say, when you
have your eyes open? I'm checking, she says.
Well, you don't trust me then, I say. That's right,
she says, because you don't do it. You don't
close your eyes. You're missing the point, I say.
If your eyes were closed then I'd never know
whether mine are or aren't. I know, she says.
And that's the point. We're about to break eye

contact. It won't be pretty. One of us
is bound to look away first. Already
I see what I'll be seeing--the window,
and the outside I can't quite focus on.
There's an apple tree out there, and a nest.
The apples all have worms. The nest is bare
--it was there last year and just as empty.

That's if I look to the right. To my left
there's the sofa, where we used to make out
after we were married. Above it, Still
Life with Oranges. I hate that damned thing.
Her turn now: look to her left and she'll see
a corner without a corner table
to break it up, those walls and right angles.
Hard right, the right armrest of the sofa,
sans doily, because I sleep there some nights
when I can't sleep in bed with her in bed,

and my head pushes it off the armrest
and it disappears on the other side.
We can't see it but we know it's there. It's
wrinkled. We forget that it's gone. Let it
go. We should never have gotten married,
she whispers. She's weeping. You don't love me,
she says. She tries to walk away but I
hold her by the shoulder. Kiss me, I say,
as if it is our first kiss and the last,
both together. Huh, she says. Close your eyes,
I say. She does. And I close mine. Don't peek,
I say. I won't, she says. On three, I say.
On three, she says. Ready, I say. Ready,
she echoes. One. Two. Three. Our four blind lips

meet for the first and last time, together.
Smack. I open my eyes. She's opened hers,
or they were never closed. It's too late now.
What about all the kisses in between,
she says. What about them, I say. Can't we
kiss and include them all with the first and
last and make one really big terrific
kiss. No, I say. Why not, she says. Because
that would be too much for us to handle,
I say. That would be the kiss of death. Oh,
she says. That makes sense. But it doesn't.

- - -
I've had poems published in many journals and have authored three books of poetry. I've taught university English in the US, China, and Palestine.
--(Mr.) Gale Acuff


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