The first kiss. That pulsing puckering push out of a warm womb, followed by the cold kiss of light and air and sound, once soft and muted, now so sharp and loud.
Yet familiar is one voice, teased out of many, one smell, one touch and, rooting around, this tiny babe offers her first kiss upon her mother’s breast.
Kisses abound in this round world, up and down, in, out, around. The kiss of first winter’s ice, warm bath, old dog’s tongue, soft words, and then hard ones as time and life tick on. Kisses come with friends, cousins, Nana’s slobbery ones and Aunt Ruth’s puckery red lipstick, Papa’s prickly moustache and brother’s feigned affection.
Kisses continue -- hot ones of fright and shame, but also passion, pleasure and accompanying pain. These kisses are her wild ride and she relishes each, tucking them away for whenever they are wanted and needed.
Passion tempers to peace, clash to comfort. Kisses renew in turn as tumbling wombs kiss out new bundles who learn the tactile ropes of life.
* * *
I have a friend who is in her final days. Surrounded by her three daughters, the circle of kisses returns ‘round, her pale, hairless head covered, no, smothered in kisses as she is pulsed and pushed out of this worldly womb, into a bright warm place -- where Nanas, Papas, Aunt Ruths, and old dogs come kissing . . . once again.