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Kissing Hands

Just last week I had no idea what to say
to my beautiful friend Geeza
whose name is so close to the Greek “Ageezo”
which means “to touch” . . .

Who had winked her headlights at me
and stopped her car when I’d stopped my run
in the middle of the same road before I could know it
I’d reached through the window & taken her hand
off the steering wheel
spotting the glints from the diamond on her finger
and like some cockamamie courtier
for the first time in all my years
was clearly kissing a lady’s hand . . .

He wanted to make sure I could understand
the differences between the weekly & weekend
bus-schedule . . . He urgently looked me in the eye
and wondered aloud “Pou einai apo?” (Where was I from?)
Pale with one tooth in his mouth but young
he wore a white t-shirt & bleached-out jeans
a light pack strapped to his shoulders . . .

Long after we said “Yaisas” & I added
“sto kalo”—“go with good”—I’d gone
for my run & come back to the little open
wayside church hoping my meditation
would be good as prayer . . .

As the flame-tip of the candle turned gaze to reverie
I heard a rustling at my back
saw that the almost toothless pale boy
seemed to have found me
as if looking so urgently for someone else
I thought to tell him I was praying for my son
in my worst most broken Greek
the boy looked pale and skinny as the Christ-ikon
hanging on the chapel wall
afraid to say no more than the silence
we two suddenly kept
like a vigil . . . Our spell
wouldn’t break till he’d blurt
in such stark English
“I need 3 & half Euros for the bus
to Mitilinni” . . . My fingers would sneak
behind my back to search for the zipper-slit
above the secret pocket in my running shorts
graspable coins in my fingers
would arrive so fast in his own
he’d look up astonished . . . Pause
as if to say something he couldn’t
before he’d take up my hand
to put to his lips
turn to leave me
hiding a face in the palm
as though keeping it kissed . . .  


Gary Sange is the author of Sudden Around the Bend, published by University of Missouri, Kansas City.  His poetry has appeared in Ohio Review, Shenandoah, Literary Review, Crazy Horse, Field, Quarterly, The New York Times, Prism International, Quarterly Review of Literature, Three Rivers Poetry Journal, New York Quarterly, and many others.  His poetry has been anthologized in New Voices in American Poetry and Southern Poetry Review 20 Year Anniversary.  Sange has won the Richard Hugo Memorial Fellowship, has been Poet-in-Residence at the Caribbean Writers’ Conference in Nassau, and has taught a course, Journaling in Ireland, for bicyclists and journal keepers.  His long poem, “Maud,” was performed as an oratorio at Carnegie Hall and is available on compact disc.