‘Fish Bouncing Kiss’ by Riyas Qurana is a thirty-four line poem that is contained within one large stanza. The lines vary greatly in length and do not conform to a specific rhyming or metrical pattern. This free verse poem is also noted for the extreme length of a great number of its lines. This lends the verses a look that is closer to paragraphs than stanzas.
When analyzing this piece it is important to take note of the places the poet has chosen to end one line and begin another. Often these lines do not end at a normal pause in speaking. They are cut off in the middle of a thought or just before an important action occurs. This technique is called enjambment and is used to speed up and slow down the reader.
The poem begins with the speaker stating that he and a female character have come together at a particular tree. Supposedly, they did not plan to meet there but ended up there by chance.
They spend their time together remembering the past and catching one another up on what happened in the intervening years of their lives. This happens often between them.
In the last section of the poem the speaker describes the woman’s mouth as being like a fish which kisses him on the cheek. He returns the gesture and they depart for their respective homes. There is once again, no end to their relationship, nor is there a serious change.
Analysis of Fish Bouncing Kiss
In the first stanza of ‘Fish Bouncing Kiss’ the speaker begins by explaining that something, the reader does not know what, “Came apart” in the “next moment.” This piece will tap into the emotions tied around coming and going, parting, and meeting, throughout its lines, making this statement a suitable beginning.
The speaker and the female character with whom meet and speaks, are together at a specific tree. The two characters of this poem both noticed the one specific “branch where [they] sat.” This place was perhaps once a refuge for the speaker, or maybe it meant something to the both of them in the past.
The two are now staring up at the tree and at the same time, see a…
…leaf eluding the grip comes off the branch.
The falling leaf only travels a short way before their eyes begin to track its progress. They tear their attention from one another and from their situation, they “went away.”
In the second stanza, the poet’s narrative becomes clearer. He is sitting alongside this person and reminiscing on the moments they shared in the past. In one brief span of time, they are able to process…
…hundreds of memory-years of the heart
We met beside the same tree
In this moment of coming together, all of their histories is combined. They remember everything they’ve been through.
Neither of these two characters forgot to “say that [they] lost” their way and “arrived there by chance.” They told one another this lie, knowing full well the other would see through it. In just “two hours” they are able to go through their memories. It was all compressed down into a shorter period of time.
In the final line of this section the character with whom the speaker is meeting, states that it doesn’t matter the reason they’ve come together, just that they have.
In the next set of lines of ‘Fish Bouncing Kiss’ the speaker goes on to…
…point out the sameness in agreeing to part ways.
We shared the memory-year of both of us.
Not only was their coming together with a mutually felt experience, so was their previous parting. The next lines detail a few of the moments which are shared between the speaker and his female counterpart. He recalls “the river” and how it burst “open the mountain.” While she speaks of the changing of the night into day and day into night. This process is described as…
…the startling event when the night covering the day and then folding its sheet.
The next lines bring the reader back to the present moment. The speaker chases…
…away the crow that sat above her, on the tree.
He does this without worrying about what she will say. She does not see why he made this motion, only that he was waving his hand around. She asks him, “‘what have you done?” He does not respond to her question but instead continues the narration to describe how the crow flew off angrily. It went…
…chasing the wind and circling, swirling
And twirling returning to my side.
These lines are interesting first for the fact that there are four rhyming words within them, and because they could apply to both the crow and the wind.
The speaker, still ignoring the question of his partner, asks, “How can the crow” which has been “chased away remain here?” In this instance the crow is a symbol of their relationship. It is something which has frequently been driven off, but still manages to return. This is an action he cannot fathom.
In the last line, the speaker states that the leaf which was seen to separate from the branch at the beginning of the poem has yet to hit the ground. It has not landed, nor has their relationship.
In the next set of lines, the female character climbs onto the branches of the tree and sits down. She did this simply because she felt like it and in the process…
…shook off the lead with her glance and made it
She does things by instinct and without thinking. Perhaps this is the speaker’s way of trying to understand why their relationship is not working. He states in the next line that it is “time for” them to go home.
The following two lines bring a “fish” into the narrative. It seems to be a strange image to place in the poem at this point but by the final lines it will make more sense. The fish is able to “spring and bounce.” There is no meaning to the “fish.” It is, as the speaker states, “secret and exclusive.”
The last lines describe the “fish” as being a pair of lips. The fish that “she had, wandered upon my cheek.” She kisses him there in a “lilting and leaping” fashion, and then he kisses her back.
In the last two lines the speaker states that in the end “nothing whatsoever fell on the ground.” There were no fallen leaves, nothing “writhed and died.” Their love did not vanish completely but in the end they “set forth to [their] respective homes.