Written in 2012 – who knew there would be a positive angle on social distancing? Kind of lets me off the hook for now, with my phobia and all
These days you just have to meet
a person to get kisses.
These kisses are called air kisses.
France 2, Netherlands 3, UK who the hell knows?
We British are not so good at this type of thing
but the idea is to allow each cheek, Parisian cool
to receive the mwah mwah of a total stranger.
Always my worry is I’ll mess it up
because I am an air-kissing phobic.
What if I turn the right cheek
when the kisser is coming in for the left?
I’m not good at smooth moves, you see.
Oh my God, what if I crash in with my nose?
Or worse still …
Right now I am the articled clerk
in the face of the accountant’s embrace,
the office junior as the managing director
steams into the space alongside my cheek.
I am the most humble broomhandler in the salon
when the top styling director
applies her touché éclat mwah
Shall I visit a hypnotherapist who’ll drug
me by drawling and murmuring
at my closed eyes? Nah. I’ll just lose ten minutes
of my life and the hypnotherapist
can’t help with what I already know.
It’s all due to an air kissing cock-up
rooted in my long passed past.
August 1977. St Ives. Smooth older sister. Me.
Sister’s met an ice cool twice cool lead guitar
from an ice cool British band
with a voice like a drain being sucked up
by max power machinery. She brings him over.
I lose all sense of direction as I sense
that this is a moment I will never forget.
Drainthroat moves in for the first air kiss
of my life. But my mouth takes it into its head
to go native and lines itself up with his mouth.
My face is stuck, it will not turn.
And Drainthroat laughs like a Dyno-Rod sucker
on forty drainholes a day, winks at my sister, and says
“Oh, I get it, she wants the real thing.”