Berkeley, late spring

I'd been browsing the poetry section at Cody's

and as I walked out, the unexpected sun lighted the lips
of everyone in the Friday afternoon crowd along Telegraph,
and I imagined kissing them all: nestling mine
with pouted lips, wrinkling lips, some faded and practical,
others comfortably possessed. Thought how funny
folks would think me if they knew, then how rare
in all our lives these reverences are (like being next
to another as they sleep, or rest); imagined what their smells
were, the sun now steaming the air around us:
and if the smells would matter, sweet or rank; decided
then to write of it, save in the spaces between words
elusive want.

and remembered kissing my first girlfriend inside a church
before aching out goodbye; remembered kissing my grandmother
three days dead and laid out for respects all night
before the funeral, her face cool and newly taut, the kiss
protecting me from fearing her spirit come back to sleep
          beside me;
remembered how a lover kissed, his tongue tracing desire
          along rivers
of my body (and now that he is dead, too, the traces make me
          anxious: as if
a spirithis, or another'swalks with me along this street
and everywhere); remembered how at moments even now
          watching strangers kiss
goodbye leaves my lips just enough warm.

and I noticed that the poems that moved me
had mostly to do with loving and loss and the loss of love
and I wondered when it would be time to be moved by
          other poems
not haunted by fears of wanting and remembering.
And I've noticed that this poem is not the one
I thought it'd be because the smells that move along rivers
in our breathing have mattered after all; because spaces
between all these words hold there more complicated wishes
than for casual prayers within a motley crowd.


Poems by Forrest Hamer:

Night traveling
Goldsboro narrative #37
Shaping the dark
Berkeley, late spring
13 suppositions about the ubiquitous
Goldsboro narrative #24: Second benediction
Getting happy
The calling

TIMES TEN: An Anthology of Northern California Poets