Goodbye Kisses

Risley Hall co-eds kiss their dates
to the sound of the curfew bell.
Last kiss, first kiss, it makes no difference.
All must kiss. Not too passionate,
not too perfunctory. Proper kisses.
The house mother claps her hands.
The dorm is closing, doors locking.

Not flustered, I have practiced
under the scrutiny of twelve year old girls.
We hold kissing contests in backyards,
time each other with willing boys.
Back pressed to house bricks
teeth and lips grind into mine,
smell of bubble gum saliva fills my nose,
lips grow numb with pressure.

I think of my brother’s kisses, frontal,
soft-lipped, full. He kisses family
and friends, and liberally when drinking.
I never got a last kiss. Dead
on a mountain before the rescue
he is marble by the time I arrive.
Only in my dreams, and sometimes
with his sons I have my brother back,
hug him close, kiss his lips.

by Linda J. Himot
published in Poetry in Performance 40, May, 2012