The Archipelago of Kisses by Jeffrey McDaniel
Probably used that phrase more often than not. This poem has always been close to my heart.
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. Now if you
were younger, you’d pull over, slide open the mouth’s ruby door
just to see how it fits. Oh where
does one find love? If you rub two glances together, you get
a smile; rub two smiles, you get
a spark; rub two sparks together and you have a kiss. Now
what? Don’t invite the kiss
to your house 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 goodbye,
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. Dim the lights, notice how it illuminates
the room. Clutch it to your chest,
wonder if the sand inside every hourglass comes from a special
beach. Place it on the tongue’s pillow,
then look up the first recorded French kiss in history: beneath
a Babylonian olive tree in 1300 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. Even when
I’m dead, I’ll swim through the earth
like a mermaid of the soil, just to be next to your bones.