Rereading Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man has me thinking about this. I love a good kiss.


"He closed his eyes, surrendering himself to her, body and mind, conscious of nothing in the world but the dark pressure of her softly parting lips. They pressed upon his brain as upon his lips, as though they were the vehicle of vague speech; and between them he felt an unknown and timid pressure, darker than the swoon of sin, softer than sound or odour."

—James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist


'Above,' she said. This was one of the words we had been asked to practice for our preposition exam. 'The pine cone,' she said, 'is above the leaves.'

'Are you ready for that?' I asked.

'I think so,' said Allison. 'I'll study some more tonight.'

The sun slipped briefly behind behind a cloud, and a blackbird shot past us with a sudden vabap of its wings.

I aimed my finger at the leaf arrangement. ‘Beneath,’ I said. ‘The leaves are beneath the pine cone.’

Her voice gave a trill. ‘Pretty clever.’ She folded her arms around me, clasping her hands at my shoulder.

'And this,' she said, 'is around.'

A little hm of surprise escaped my throat. ‘About,’ I said—and holding tight, I repeated her gesture.

'Toward,' she said.

'Beside,' I said.




The far side of the school hummed with the voices of parents and idling cars. My temple was pressed to Allison’s, my arms to her back, the turn of my face to the turn of her own. She shifted her weight, and her jackt rucked together at my side. She brought her teeth together, and I felt the motion of them against the pad of her cheek. When she blinked and drew toward me, parting her lips, my heart tumbled over inside me like an hourglass.

'Betwixt,' she said. 

—Kevin Brockmeier, “Apples”


But now, waiting in the chair, and why worry about time, the meaning of her kissed had become all things to me. In the variety of the tone of her words, moods, hugs, kisses, brushes of the lips, and this night the upside-down kiss over the back of the chair with her dark eyes heavy hanging and her blushing cheeks full of sweet blood and sudden tenderness brooding like a hawk over the boy over the back, holding the chair on both sides, just an instant, the startling sudden sweet fall of all her hair over my face and the soft downward brush of her lips, a moment’s penetration of sweet lip flesh, a moment’s drowned in thinking and kissing in it and praying and hoping and in the mouth of life when life is young to burn cool skin eye-blinking joy—I held her captured upside down, also just for a second, and savored the kiss which first had surprised me like blind man’s bluff so I didn’t know really who was kissing me for the very first instant but now I knew and knew everything more than ever, as, grace-wise, she descended to me from the upper dark where I’d thought only cold could be and with all her heavy lips and breast in my neck and on my head and sudden fragrance of the night brought with her from the porch, of some 5 & 10 cheap perfumes of herself the little hungry scent of perspiration warm in her flesh like preciousness.

—Jack Kerouac, Maggie Cassidy

Seriously. That second sentence of the Kerouac is also one of my top ten favorite giant sentences ever.

  1. mcfierce posted this