Feet First

Beijing image by Eimear Gavin for the poem Feet First by Irish poet Maeve Heneghan, love, first kiss - HeadStuff.org












In the searing heat

Of a Beijing afternoon,

When I liked you,

But didn’t love you,


We took a taxi to my little flat,

You, always the gentleman,

Wanted to see me home.


On arrival,

Acting on impulse

I kissed your cheek,

Waved goodbye.


In three days,

You would return to your life,

I, to mine.


My roommate, Miss Zhang,

Raised an eyebrow

When told of that kiss.


She delivered a crash course

In Chinese social norms,

Women, she scolded,

Especially Western ones,

Kissing men in the street,

Was strictly, taboo.


On our final day together,

You and I,

I took your hand.

Shook it firmly.

Miss Zhang would have been proud.


A week crawled by,

The dring dring of the telephone,

Cut across my melancholy.

I was surprised to hear your voice

So soon again.


We settled into easy chat,

When with a shy edge,

You hinted at my forgetfulness

That last day in Beijing.


I asked what that might be.

“You forgot to kiss me.” You said.

I think I loved you then.