by Dee Newman
From the moment I first saw her
enter Mrs. Shaw's fifth grade classroom,
I had wanted to kiss her.
For six long years I waited
longing for her to want to kiss me.
It was not until the summer
following our sophomore year in high school,
after she and Doug had been going steady for nearly a year,
that I finally found the courage
to whisper to her, "I love you."
She was standing alone in the dark,
just off stage, waiting to make her entrance
into the Norris Summer Players' production
of Bell, Book and Candle.
Later that fall at the Church Bazaar,
I was able, in spite of my trembling uncertainty,
to ask her to go for a ride.
Driving out along the river through the mist,
we parked at the overlook above the dam
and talked about nearly everyone, but us.
On our way back to the Community Building,
I pulled into the parking lot of the Episcopal Church
and turned off the engine.
There was a long moment of silence
(when all I could hear was my heart)
before she pulled from her coat pocket
an old Chinese finger-cuff
she had purchased earlier that evening
at the White Elephant Booth.
It was then, as our fingertips touched
within the interlocking weave of that ancient willow,
that she looked into my eyes and asked, "Will you kiss me?"
And, for some inexplicable reason, all I could do or say was, "Why?"
"Because I want to know what it feels like," she said,
"You have such beautiful lips." And then, she kissed me.