Five Points, Vol. 5 No. 1Fall 2000
From Ha Jin, “I only write about failure. I never write about success. I never write about important people. I never write about the brighter side.”
All the kisses I’ve ever been given, today I feel them on my mouth
And my knees feel them, the reckless ones placed there
through the holes in my jeans while I sat on a car hood
or a broken sofa in somebody’s basement, the way I was
in those days, still amazed that boys and even men would want to
lower their beautiful heads like horses drinking from a river and taste me.
The back of my neck feels them, my hair swept aside to expose the nape,
and my breasts tingle the way they did when my milk came in after the birth,
when I was swollen, and sleepless, and my daughter fed and fed until I pried
her from me and laid her in her crib. Even the chaste kisses that brushed
my check, the fatherly ones on my forehead, I feel them rising up from underneath
the skin of the past, a delicate, roseate rash; and the ravishing ones, God,
I think of them and the filaments in my brain start buzzing crazily and flare out.
Every kiss is here somewhere, all over me like a fine, shiny grit, like I’m a pale
fish that’s been dipped in a thick swirl of raw egg and dragged through flour,
slid down into a deep skillet, into burning. Today I know I’ve lost no one.
My loves are here: wrists, eyelids, damp toes, all scars, and my mouth
pouring praises, still asking, saying kiss me; when I’m dead kiss this poem,
it needs you to know it goes on, give it your lovely mouth, your living tongue.