For Jack

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Yours are the only feet I’ve ever kissed. Soft is an incompetent word, smooth a weak synonym, for the delicate pink of your soles. Like tender petals, untouched, pristine, your toes press their cool pads to my cheeks, curling to grab the warmth that radiates. I have been trying hard to name this smell. It is sweet, like the juice of a peach dried on salty skin—or maybe strawberries ripening in a paper bag. It is sour too, like the intimate sweat shared by two sleeping bodies. It is familiar and also new.

It won’t be long now.  You’ll have dirt beneath these toenails.  Your smell will turn foreign, become boyish and rebel. Your skin will wrinkle and harden.  Blisters will bubble in new shoes, calluses will protect you from hot pavement. These feet will walk and run. I will warn you of sharp rocks, misplaced nails, and broken glass and you will ignore me for the feel of cool dirt between your toes, just like I ignored my mother.

I hope these feet will explore jungles and deserts and cities. I hope they will run in races and climb mountains. I hope they will carry you wherever you wish to go, but for now I am going to kiss them.

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