‘Kissing’ by Cristina Navazo-Eguía Newton


Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth,
for your love is more delightful than wine.

Song of Songs, 1:2

Love, I’ve learned people do not kiss in Burma.
There those that have been seen to kiss
are liable to come under suspicion and surveillance
leading to house-arrest or long terms in gulags
– like Insein prison near Yangon –
or to forced labour on the SCOR railway line through Mon State
and the gas pipes for Total Oil.
You and I are at serious risk.
But not to kiss you would be a grievous sin
against the biblical teaching
would bring in the temptation of the enemy,
and put our love in danger of withering,
leaving it locked up in cells of mind and flesh
and never allowed to vote freely
for a kiss-as-you-walk-along-the-bridge-of-life future.
We should always greet each other with a holy kiss,
and never neglect each other’s mouths
except by mutual accord for praying
and only for a short time, lest our prayers be impeded.
We need immunisation against this kiss-freeze bug.
Let’s marry again, and kiss after our wedding vows in Rajasthan,
and let them fine us.
What is 1,000 rupees for a kiss of yours.
Kiss me in public in Dubai, under jet-trees of naphtha oil,
then let us spend the night in prison,
in solitary confinement,
scratching tallies on the wall for all the kisses that you owe me,
planning the next kiss in tunnel Tom,
the one in Dick, the one in Harry, and the great-escape non-stop run
to the longest, deepest one in liberated France.

Cristina Navazo-Eguía Newton has published two collections –La Frontera and Rutas de Largo Recorrido– in her native language, with work also included in several anthologies. She now lives in Britain, where some of her English poems have appeared in journals –most recently in PN Review– and been short-listed by the Strokestown, Gregory O’Donoghue, Aesthetica, and Nottingham Poetry Society competitions. Her poem Edison Peña Runs the Six Miles won the Poetry London Competition 2011, judged by Paul Farley. Cry Wolf, her first English collection and a recipient of the Straid Award, has recently been published by Templar.