Ben Mirov on "A Kiss on the Purplish Light"

A Kiss on the Purplish Light


I wanted to impress her with my kissing ability

and so placed my hand on her cheek.

It scared me, but I touched it gently.

My eyes were shut. My mind began to wander.

I thought of a deer spooked by his shadow

on the rime. I thought about Papa

who died half-naked with a mouthful

of mushroom soup. I thought of the universe

expanding in its bowl and of the breaking

of the bowl and the spilling of its contents

onto what. I thought of the word isotope.

Isotope, I thought to myself. Although

I may have spoke it aloud. Years passed

between end of the kiss and the beginning

of the next. Several things occurred

that demanded my immediate attention.

I found a bouquet of wilted flowers.

I spilt my mug of strong black tea.

 On "A Kiss on the Purplish Light"

I don't remember exactly how I wrote this poem. I remember that it occurred quickly and required only a little revision. It is my personal favorite poem in a collection I wrote called Hider Roser, but I'm not sure why. I like reading it aloud and always include it in my set list when reading to an audience.

The line, "I thought about Papa / who died half-naked with a mouthful / of mushroom soup," is autobiographical. My grandfather, Joseph Sato, died in a hospital bed, dressed only in a pair of sweat pants, as my grandmother fed him a spoonful of grayish mushroom soup. I was standing in a doorway. As he died, my grandfather said, "Oh boy!" like someone about to take the initial drop on a roller coaster. His exclamation was a mixture of anticipatory excitement, anxiousness, and reluctance.

All the other lines in the poem were imagined, and relate to my own life in an oblique manner.

I have never used the word rime in regular speech in my entire life.

In the 2nd and 3rd lines of the poem, the word isotope occurs. I remember writing the poem and receiving the word isotope from my brain. It was surprising because I did not know the meaning of the word at the time it occurred to me. I'm sure I had heard or read the word before thinking to use it in the poem. However, its occurrence via the feedback loop of my brain, and its appropriateness in the poem, felt miraculous. The experience was very satisfying.

I recently realized this poem is about my personal experience breaking up with the woman who is now my wife. For many years, I thought of it as a poem about someone else. Now, I view both of these aspects as equally valid.




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