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Kurt Brown & Laure-Anne Bosselaar: The Kiss I Would Have Spent on You

A kiss transcends time, and poetry.

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Image courtesy of the author

By Kurt Brown and Laure-Anne Bosseelaar
The Kiss is a bimonthly series curated by Brian Turner.

I finally had the courage to turn on Kurt’s computer in September. He had passed away in June, and Steve Huff, the editor and publisher of Tiger Bark Press, had asked me to find Kurt’s poetry files, in order to publish his posthumous collection, I’ve Come This Far to Say Hello: Poems Selected and New. A mellow sun filled his room, the curtains open as he always left them—the small, bronze abstract sculpture we had bought at an artist’s market in Provence next to the pile of books, Jim Shepard’s You Think That’s Bad, Edmund Wilson’s Axel’s Castle, Charles Simic’s My Noiseless Entourage, and a bilingual edition of François Villon’s The Legacy & the Testament, by his reading chair.

As I sat at his desk, a graying woman stared back at me from the black mirror of Kurt’s computer monitor, her left hand clasped against her lips at the thought of opening his files. I turned the computer on and, though filled with hesitation, soon discovered a file called “Almost Poems,” which was comprised of about eighty to ninety poems, all in alphabetical order—some in very early stages of draft, some unfinished, others almost done. I read through them avidly, one poem after another. Hundreds of lines I had never seen:

I’m thinking of your eyes, following each word now / as I write this, / as I place words end-to-end with other words to build a bridge, a sentence / over nothing. / We both are children once again, / stepping out into a field of snow…

I remember standing knee deep in the ocean, as close as I could from the black, split rock next to which I had dispersed most of Kurt’s ashes.

I can hear Kurt’s voice when I read these words. And I’m transported by this field of snow to the years we lived in Snowmass Village, Colorado, sometimes cut off from the main roads by snowstorms and white outs that lasted for days, and for which we were secretly thankful.

There is a place in which beauty will not die, / timeless Eden where memory lies down /with desire and age is only a dream. / Where flesh is immortal, and willing, and warm.

Kurt and I loved listening to music together. I remember often listening to the Romanian Women’s Choir, or to Chants D’Auvergne by Canteloube. We’d sit, not saying much, sipping wine, and, yes, for an instant, feeling ageless, and willing, and warm.

The body is but a visible portion of the soul, like thoughts, whose surrogates are words. / And when thoughts dry up, words are dust / whipping across imagination’s grave.

Then I opened “The Kiss.”

Read it, re-read it, read it again.

I don’t quite remember how fast or blurry-eyed my drive was to the Arroyo Burro beach, about five minutes from our house. But I do remember standing knee deep in the ocean, as close as I could from the black, split rock next to which I had dispersed most of Kurt’s ashes. It was high tide—I couldn’t quite reach ‘his’ rock. And I remember I very quietly wept there, elated, broken-hearted, thankful and full of sorrow.

The Kiss
            for Laure-Anne

That kiss I failed to give you.
How can you forgive me?
The kiss I would have spent on you is still
there, within me. It will probably die there.
But it will be the last of me to die.

—Kurt Brown

Laure-Anne Bosselaar is the author of The Hour Between Dog and Wolf, Small Gods of Grief, winner of the Isabella Gardner Prize, and of A New Hunger, selected as an ALA Notable Book. The editor of four anthologies, and the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, she teaches at the Solstice Low Residency MFA at Pine Manor College.

Kurt Brown’s (1944-2013) first book of poems, Return of the Prodigals, appeared from Four Way Books in 1999, and More Things in Heaven and Earth (also Four Way Books) in 2002. Fables from the Ark, which won the 2003 Custom Words Prize, was published by WordTech. Future Ship (Red Hen Press) came out in 2007 followed by No Other Paradise (also from Red Hen Press, 2010). Tiger Bark Press published Time-Bound in 2013, and I’ve Come This Far To Say Hello: Poems Selected and New in 2014.

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