Lies Gallez: kissing colonization

Kiss – Read My World 2023

kissing colonization

Saliva contains minerals that protect your enamel, don’t you know. when your tongue circles around another tongue, around another heart. around everything those other shoulders carry through days: crumbs from a distant journey, in a distant land where nights persisted, the moon never setting in a nightmare, doubts, shards in the palm of a hand, the beats of seconds in a dark, dead corner of the room.

you are still two bodies beneath the bright street lights of a warm summer night. you wait for that which you call desire. you wait for a naked body. you wait for kisses on your cheek, in your neck, on your shoulders. you wait for colonization. you have emptied an entire space within yourself. you want to say:

give me a new name. place your hands on my hips. occupy my skin with touches until i feel them in my bones. ignite a new light in my head. let me exist between your breaths.

you want to say: i am a very big country for you. i am a place where you can silently lie in the grass. i am the last petal of a daisy that says you love me.


she is the silences of a shy smile the moment you tell her how much you love her dimples. that your little finger fits in them. that you want to leave your worries there. that you no longer think about tomorrow and tomorrow. time becomes an arc, a circle that brings you back to her again and again.

her soft body. the sweat under her armpits. the tip of her tongue on the knuckles of your left hand.

find a new star together in the warmth of summer darkness. the sun sticks to your skin. she smells of fabric softener, of the promise of a bed in a room soon. of soon hearing each other breath long enough under the blankets. build a tent in bed with four arms. the story of how you found each other in another country. kiss each other’s breath out of two bodies. so the other one feels embraced.

you exist, you exist, you exist.

you sink your teeth into her shoulder blade. you want to say:

kiss me until i forget the sky. until the only thing i remember is how i want to wake up next to you in the first rays of a morning sun every day. coffee, croissants, a cat, a lifetime of thinking about later and seeing her smile shyly all the time.

her doing the dishes with swaying hips. lather on the kitchen counter, the floor. the view of a garden where you planted mint for her. her with her hair wet. her always forgetting her keys. forgetting she is too beautiful not to exist.

teeth marks. tracing a drop of sweat with your index finger from her navel to her pubic mound. her pubic hair. the insides of her thighs. until she giggles and says:

your mouth.

lets her head fall backwards. presses her hips into the sheets and says:

your mouth.

the last petal of a daisy you had picked and you thought of this moment when you could keep saying yes. spending that summer night in a tent. in a bed. in the same country. saying yes. touching the fringes of a night. you kissing. her kissing. kissing. kissing.

the next morning hanging freshly washed underwear on the clothesline in the garden where you planted mint for her. moving toward each other peg by peg. touching each other in the middle, a kiss, a tongue, a mouth. a heart around a heart and two bodies remaining.

Translated by Janne Van Beek

About KISS:

Kissing is a wordless act. It can be noisy, or very quiet, it can happen in public, or in private. It can be a gesture of passion, of tenderness, of kindness, a showcase of love, but maybe of despair, or a simple way of saying we care. We kiss our lovers, our children, our parents, our friends, we kiss strangers, some of us also kiss our pets, as well as objects as part of many rituals we have been passed on to or created ourselves. Kissing is emotional and it can also be political: it isn’t the same everywhere for everyone. Who can kiss? Whom? Where? How? Do we all have the same right to kissing in public? Or even in the privacy of our homes?

When I asked poets Nisrine Mbarki and Lies Gallez to respond to these reflections on kissing and to write new work for this programme, I knew that the strength of their poetic voice would translate perfectly to the stage. What moved me particularly is the vulnerability they have brought and how that fragility turned to powerful connection thanks to the collective experience which a festival can create space for like no other place. I hope you will feel that power as you read their poems from behind your screens too.

Canan Marasligil, curator of the programme KISS presented at the Read My World Festival on 15 September 2023