top of page

Jane Ebihara


Last Kiss


First, in your seventies and alone, you read that those who

count such things say an average person kisses for a total


of two weeks in a lifetime. And you realize your two weeks

was up some time ago. Suddenly there is kissing everywhere


you look. And you learn that cows kiss and squirrels. Puffins,

snails and meerkats! And you are overcome with sorrow and


an overwhelming desire to kiss—to be kissed. And you learn

that’s called basorexia and you have it. You watch the lips


of strangers in the supermarket—wonder if one would want

to kiss you. You know now that a minute of kissing burns


twenty-six calories and that a man lives up to five years

longer if he kisses his lover before he goes to work. You want


to tell someone that. And what’s worse, unlike the first kiss,

the last slipped by unnoticed. It might have been


a spring day when daffodils answered the sun’s invitation or

an autumn day when everything else was burning. Or simply


a day you took out the garbage, did a load of wash. Then, someone

comes and takes your hand and you remember words


to a song you thought you’d never hear again and you remember

all those sunsets you forgot to watch and the smell of woods in rain.


And you remember the river, the river—how it presses

its mouth again and again to the swollen sea

Tracy K. Smith reads Last Kiss from A Constellation of Kisses on her podcast, The Slowdown

bottom of page