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The Archipelago of Kisses

The Archipelago of Kisses

We live in a modern society. Husbands and wives don't
grow on trees, like in the old days. So where
does one find love? When you're sixteen it's easy,
like being unleashed with a credit card
in a department store of kisses. There's the first kiss.
The sloppy kiss. The peck.
The sympathy kiss. The backseat smooch. The we
shouldn't be doing this kiss. The but your lips
taste so good kiss. The bury me in an avalanche of tingles kiss.
The I wish you'd quit smoking kiss.
The I accept your apology, but you make me really mad
sometimes kiss. The I know
your tongue like the back of my hand kiss. As you get
older, kisses become scarce. You'll be driving
home and see a damaged kiss on the side of the road,
with its purple thumb out. If you
were younger, you'd pull over, slide open the mouth's
red door just to see how it fits. Oh where
does one find love? If you rub two glances, you get a smile.
Rub two smiles, you get a warm feeling.
Rub two warm feelings and presto-you have a kiss.
Now what? Don't invite the kiss over
and answer the door in your underwear. It'll get suspicious
and stare at your toes. Don't water the kiss with whiskey.
It'll turn bright pink and explode into a thousand luscious splinters,
but in the morning it'll be ashamed and sneak out of
your body without saying good-bye,
and you'll remember that kiss forever by all the little cuts it left
on the inside of your mouth. You must
nurture the kiss. Turn out the lights. Notice how it
illuminates the room. Hold it to your chest
and wonder if the sand inside hourglasses comes from a
special beach. Place it on the tongue's pillow,
then look up the first recorded kiss in an encyclopedia: beneath
a Babylonian olive tree in 1200 B.C.
But one kiss levitates above all the others. The
intersection of function and desire. The I do kiss.
The I'll love you through a brick wall kiss.

~ Jeffrey McDaniel


Kissing just happens to be one of the fundamental components of true physical and emotional intimacy. It is one of those instinctual things we do in moments when we want to express our feelings for someone we truly like, are in love with, and want to be close to.

I can’t recall all of the details, it’s been a very long time ago, but I do remember being sent out in the hall in kindergarten because I kissed a girl in class. I have no idea what came over me. I suppose lack of self-control at age 5 is not all that uncommon.

Her name was Paula, I do remember that, and her long black hair and pretty smile must have caused some kind of reckless wild abandon in me and I simply lost it and went for it. There must have been a scene of some kind, our two small bodies leaning over our desks or something, because I distinctly remember that my teacher called my mother to the school and I had to stand in the hall until she got there. She of course was mortified. I don’t know if she punished me or what really happened afterwards. I think my head was still spinning from the kiss and I didn’t really care that I had embarrassed myself and shamed my entire family and shocked the school.

I still wonder why I got in trouble and she didn’t. The whole episode was totally consensual. After all, I remember we later held hands on the playground. Kissing always leads to other things.

I don’t know whatever happened to Paula. I can still see her in a white pleated dress with a high waist and wearing black Mary Jane shoes. I do know that after our scandal I realized that kissing creates all kinds of funny feelings. All of them good ones.

There is that great line in the movie “Princess Bride” where the grandfather is reading the story to his grandson and the book describes a beautiful kiss between Wesley and Buttercup and the grandfather reads, “Since the invention of the kiss, there have only been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind.”

That’s the kiss we’re all looking to give and to receive. It may very well be the one in McDaniel’s terrific list, “The I do kiss / The I’ll love you through a brick wall kiss.”

Whatever the risk or the consequences, that’s a kiss worth everything.

© 2012 Timothy Moody

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