Monday, March 17, 2014

she disagrees with e.e. cummings

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;
      - e.e. cummings

Syntax is the part of the kiss, too.

The body needs its grammar: if you and I are on the level floor
and I reach up to kiss you,
or you pull me toward you to kiss me,
then my neck bends back, back, ack;
it leaves my participles dangling,
and I misplace my modifiers.

No, I avoid the run-on sentence.
I prefer to head for the stair step.
When I stand on the first tread, with your feet below,
my face is level with yours:
our kiss is a happy case of subject-verb agreement,
and our clauses come together
with parallel structure (of course),
not to mention that our fingers become the serial commas
that punctuate this, and this,
and that.

How much more meaning there is
when nouns replace pronouns:
when “you” and “I” in this kiss become “dad” and “mom”.
We smooch barely within the sight our children—
our birth children, step children, adopted children—
who have seen other parents argue, divorce, abandon, neglect.
And now they see Mom grab Dad’s butt.
And now they see Dad lose himself in Mom’s gaze.
And they yell, horrified,
and also delighted,
because the sentence of  this kiss has denotation,
but it also has connotation.
They know that I kiss you because I love you,
and that I love the children we have gathered willy-nilly into our home,
and that with this kiss, their syntax-loving mother
is teaching her children with her roving hands and parted lips

to read between the lines.


  1. ha ha, our children recoil and forbid kisses,
    not sure what lessons they learn, lovely poem