They say poetry is that which is lost in translation. I picked up this book of German poetry, with translations, in order to try and push me into practicing German a little more.
Reading out the German is a joy, but the translations often suck. This is a line from what seems like the tritest poem I’ve ever heard. I’m not going to engage with it at all, although I suspect there may be a layer of irony. Like David Byrne would do.
Anyway, the words (according to the book’s translation) mean ‘were delicate kisses’.
So that’s my question.
And it doesn’t really earn that question mark.
Directly behind my head, as I lay in bed writing, there is a diagram from David Byrne’s book Arboretum. Entitled ‘Möbius Kiss’ it presents a cascade of thoughts about kisses. Looping and circling around each other, and springing from the opposite corners of ‘a kiss’ and ‘the idea of a kiss’. Types of kisses and representations of kisses and things that spring from kisses, all interlinked, all exploding from each other.
To me, it’s diagrammatic romance.
It’s potentially quite hard to explain.
In my fantasy future, I bring someone pretty I’ve been getting to know home, and as they idly nose around my stuff, spot the picture, read it and the explanatory note, and immediately fall wildly in kiss with me.
‘That’s how I’ll know they’re the one’.
The world doesn’t work like that, but kisses do have a way of creating vortices around them. Even the most delicate can unleash a chain of thought and sensation and wonder around it.
I had a delicate kiss recently that I can’t stop thinking about, even though it may have been an accident and was certainly followed up by naught but awkward stumbling and yelps. (Never have the end of date kiss moment on the top deck of a rickety shaking bus).
But I can measure my romantic history in kisses.
They were delicate kisses.
Kisses are the strangest things. So loaded with impact at times, but meaning something utterly different with different people. A kiss between friends is nearly identical in structure to a kiss between lovers (or hopefuls) but feels different (potentially equal, but definitely different).
I was once kissed lustfully on the arm by a close friend. It was an accident, she’d forgotten she wasn’t sitting next to her boyfriend (another close friend, who was on the other side of me).
It was quite disturbing.
The intensity of the feeling behind it was huge, and I could feel it so vividly, even though it was still just lips pressed against me. It was like a minor assault. An invasion. Even though this was a friend that I loved dearly.
How do lips (so delicate) have such power? Where in those thin softnesses lies this strength, this intensity?
It doesn’t make much sense, does it.
But we’re all aware of it. And it makes us explode.
Küsse fein für alle.
Illustration by Jaime.