First Kiss (Trixi Rosa)

My first kiss was framed by rusty corrugated iron walls and
wonky wooden fences. It was sung by earth shattering sounds of
passing cement-tankers. The crown of my head melting under  
that mean-as summer sun. It was carved out of dried mud.  
Uneven ground beneath my feet. Our lips not yet aware they
would meet, yet we had buzzed bumble-bee-clumsy all summer.

She, all hips wide and eyes wise. Her words danced on the tip of
my tongue. Her skin was honeycomb and I always was a sweet
tooth. She said — Trixi au! Aint you ever kissed a Wāhine 
before? We taste sweeter than those Tāne, eh girl that’s for 
sure! ‘Spose we all grown now, so haere mai then, I’ll show 
you how. First, just open your mouth, wide, like ya tryna fit  
a Paddle Pop inside…

And she was smart like that too, studied hard-out in English class,
knew all about them similes. She said — Just imagine we’re
swimming in the sea. As you dive under my wave, move   
smooth, with grace. It goes my tongue, then your tongue, then 
my tongue, then your tongue. All the while our lips are  
lapping at each other’s shores. But watch the teeth though 
girl! Au, they’re like pipi shells, sweet-as when your tryna  
find ‘em for a feed, but faaa they’re sharp if they catch you…

I ran my tongue along my teeth, imagining they were pipis.
Strangely, I could already taste the salt of her sea inside me, as she
said — Ready? One. Two. Three. I felt her waves crashing around  
me. Her tongue, then my tongue. I could hardly even breathe.
Her tongue, then my tongue. I was drowning in her seas. Her  
tongue, then my tongue. I hard-out thought I was gonna die. Her
tongue, then my tongue. All stuck inside her salty honeycomb
smile. Her tongue, then my tongue…

When the wave passed and we came up for air I asked — So, what
do you even call this thing here?
Her hands dropped down from
the nape of my neck as she said — Girl don’t be an egg! Wāhine 
or Tāne, this sweetness will always just be a kiss.


Trixi Rosa is a listener / learner / poet / artist from Punakaiki, Aotearoa (New Zealand), currently living between Tāmaki Makaurau and the unceded Kulin lands known as Melbourne. She works for local non-profit organisations, collaborating with other artists to co-design community arts and cultural development projects with youth. Trixi has performed, published and exhibited work locally and internationally. In 2019, she undertook the Emerging Cultural Leaders residency at Footscray Arts and also completed a Masters of Socially Engaged Art at RMIT, receiving the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Academic Excellence. Trixi’s work is a tender and restless unravelling of self. She uses personal narrative to carve an awkward inquiry into the intersections of identity and endless pursuit of place. Moving through word, body, matter and space, she shares stories of stillness and fluidity, resilience and vulnerability. double-knotted shoelace, Trixi’s first published collection of poetry, is grounded in her experience of growing up in a small, isolated community in Te Tai Poutini, Te Waipounamu (West Coast, South Island). It touches on her connection to place, bloodlines, grief and loss, generational trauma, gendered violence, mental health, addiction, shame, and intimacy.