May Swenson
The Kiss

The thing itself is odd

this nibbled touching


Contiguous thresholds

for the souls to pass

from porch to porch 


Each a pod

snugly shut

wishes to open then divide

and so beget a sibling


To match as mittens do

identical and different


Master and mistress each

Then I will be you and bee you


In membranes locked

a peach and peach

would sip each other


Why this shock?

Ignition makes of parallels a peak

of straights a sphere


Heads together here

two rocks

the same space-pocket fills


Impossible such occupation

yet your face is mine

I stand behind your eyes


But then apart (a part) again

like boxers in ballet

The silken gloves

have barely grazed


The flick

of the immediate vanishes

Coincidence is quick


Before it tarnishes

O realize the truth of Two

the I the also You

Found In Volume , No. 05
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  • May Swenson
May Swenson
About the Author

May Swenson's first collection of poems, Another Animal, was published by Scribner in 1954.  Her other poetry collections include A Cage of Spines (1958), To Mix With Time: New and Selected Poems (1963), Half Sun Half Sleep (1967), Iconographs (1970), New & Selected Things Taking Place (1978), and In Other Words (1987). Posthumous collections of her work include The Love Poems (1991), Nature: Poems Old and New (1994), and May Out West (1996).



Swenson’s honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim, Ford, Rockefeller, and MacArthur Foundations, as well as a National Endowment for the Arts grant. She received the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, the Bollingen Prize from Yale University, and an Award in Literature from the National Institute of Arts and Letters.


In 1967, she received a Distinguished Service Gold Medal from Utah State University, and in 1987 an honorary doctor of letters. She served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1980 until her death. She died in Oceanview, Delaware, on December 4, 1989.