Winter 2006-7

Ernie Wormwood


In the new Starbucks that had come to town instead of love,
she finds him sipping peppermint tea, alone,
with red nostrils, weak, wet brown eyes.
fidgeting with a cranberry orange muffin, no jam.
He sneezes five times in 90 seconds
from behind a snowy Everest of Kleenex.
He is reading William Cane's The Art of Kissing,
jotting notes in a blue binder, so she sits down
as he sneezes again and explains the research
on the connection between kissing and colds.

He is surprised by the question she poses to him,
but seems impressed by her sincerity, selflessness,
and commitment to a better understanding
of kisses and disease, and the way every so often,
she licks her upper lip and wets her bottom lip with it,
the way it makes him forget about his misery,
and since he has not been kissing
as much as he would like to either says

She kisses him all out from the first kiss-second,
her mouth open, dedicated to science,
her tongue probing, luxuriating, playing hide and seek,
stalking the germs, pursuing the unique abandon
found in finding a fellow kissing-lover,
especially one with a cold
neverminding the disaster to follow,
saying Hello, please, Baby,
give it to me.
This cold of yours,
I have to have it.

                *Title from an article in The New Yorker March 11, 2002




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