One Kiss by Tess Gallagher
A man was given one kiss, one
mouth, one tongue, one early dawn, one boat
on the sea, lust of an indeterminate
amount under stars. He was happy
and well fitted for life until he met a man
with two cocks. Then a sense of futility
and of the great unfairness of life befell him.
He lay about all day like a teenaged girl dreaming,
practicing all the ways to be unconsciously beautiful.
Gradually his competitive spirit began to fade
and in its place a gigantic kiss rowed toward him.
It seemed to recognize him, to have intended itself
only for him. It's just a kiss, he thought,
I'll use it up. The kiss had the same thing
on its mind—``I'll use up this man.''
But when two kisses kiss, it's like tigers
answering questions about infinity with their teeth.
Even if you are eaten, it's okay—you just become impossible
a new way—sleepless, stranger than fish, stranger
than some goofy man with two cocks. That's
what I meant about the hazards
of infinity. When you at last begin to seize those things
which don't exist,
how much longer will the night need to be?
Tess Gallagher, a poet, essayist, novelist, and playwright, was born in 1943 in Port Angeles, Washington. She received a Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Arts from the University of Washington, where she studied creative writing with Theodore Roethke, and a Masters in Fine Arts from the University of Iowa.