Reading Time: < 1 minute


My mouth blooms like a cut.
I’ve been wronged all year, tedious
nights, nothing but rough elbows in them
and delicate boxes of Kleenex calling crybaby
crybaby, you fool!

Before today my body was useless.
Now it’s tearing at its square corners.
It’s tearing old Mary’s garments off, knot by knot
and see – Now it’s shot full of these electric bolts.
Zing! A resurrection!

Once it was a boat, quite wooden
and with no business, no salt water under it
and in need of some paint. It was no more
than a group of boards. But you hoisted her, rigged her.
She’s been elected.

My nerves are turned on. I hear them like
musical instruments. Where there was silence
the drums, the strings are incurably playing. You did this.
Pure genius at work. Darling, the composer has stepped
into fire.

Short Poem Analysis

"The Kiss" by Anne Sexton is a provocative and introspective poem that explores themes of desire, vulnerability, and the complex interplay between physical and emotional intimacy. Through its candid language and evocative imagery, the poem delves into the complexities of human relationships and the multifaceted nature of a simple gesture.

The poem begins with a direct and somewhat startling statement: "My mouth blooms like a cut." This metaphorical comparison between the speaker's mouth and a wound immediately draws attention and sets the tone for the rest of the poem. The choice of "blooms" suggests both the physical act of opening the mouth and the emotional response it triggers.

Throughout the poem, the speaker describes the kiss in visceral and sensory terms. The use of imagery such as "two blood red poppies" and "a tongue into the hinge" adds a sensual quality to the act of kissing. The vivid descriptions convey the intensity of the experience, while also alluding to themes of passion and vulnerability.

The poem's exploration of physical intimacy extends to emotional intimacy as well. The speaker's vulnerability is evident in lines like "the first time in thirty-six years" and "my old woman's breasts." These phrases reveal a sense of longing and desire that defies societal norms and expectations regarding aging and sexuality.

Sexton's language is candid and raw, contributing to the poem's emotional authenticity. The tone shifts between moments of sensuality, nostalgia, and self-acceptance, creating a multi-layered portrayal of the speaker's emotions and experiences.

"The Kiss" challenges traditional notions of beauty, intimacy, and aging. The poem embraces the complexities of desire and the importance of human connection, regardless of age or appearance. Sexton's exploration of the kiss as a metaphor for both physical and emotional vulnerability invites readers to consider the nuances of intimacy and the power of simple gestures to convey profound emotions.

Previous Poem
The Hangman
Next Poem
The Kite