The Kiss by Gretchen Tessmer

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Art by Anne Bauch

she’s got a wicker basket
waiting at her feet, filled

with sprigs of mint, Persian limes
silver-skinned fish
a fresh loaf scored with
nutmeg leaves—

the wily baker sweetens his offer:

“this week only, three shillings
for a heart-shaped cake
blessed by a wizard, kissed by a mage?”

but she’s late already
on two accounts
harbor-bound and seeking out
her sailor’s ship

(first to berth and heavy-laden)

she tells the baker “no”
not needing spell-charmed tokens

and if she doubts…
well, it’s only for a flicker-snatch
as knights-of-passion are many now
always off somewhere, killing the dragon
while good and steady men have

fallen out of fashion, and yet

her sailor sees her first and waves
calling out her name
their secret grins exchanged

the docks are bathed in sunset blush
and he greets her with a kiss

all salt and scent of citrus
burst, the taste
of pale, fresh mint

BIO: Gretchen Tessmer is a writer based in the U.S./Canadian borderlands. She writes both short fiction and poetry, with work appearing in such venues as Nature, Strange Horizons, Cast of Wonders, Daily Science Fiction and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, as well as previous appearances in Liquid Imagination.

“The Kiss” is part of an ongoing art/poetry project with her frequent collab-partner, Anne Bauch, who provides the illustration (and a generous part of the inspiration) for this poem.