The Kiss Still Works

I stand by the bed where a young woman lies, her face postoperative, her mouth twisted in palsy, clownish. A tiny twig of the facial nerve, the one to the muscles of her mouth, has been severed. She will be thus from now on.

The surgeon had followed with religious fervor the curve of her flesh; I promise you that.

Nevertheless, to remove the tumor in her cheek, I had to cut the little nerve.

Her young husband is in the room. He stands on the opposite side of the bed and together they seem to dwell in the evening lamplight, isolated from me, private.

Who are they, I ask myself, he and this wry mouth I have made, who gaze at and touch each other so generously, greedily?

The young woman asks, “Will my mouth always be like this?”

“Yes,” I say, “it will. It’s because the nerve was cut.”

She nods and is silent. But the young man smiles. “I like it,” he says. “It’s kind of cute.”

Unmindful, he bends to kiss her crooked mouth and I am so close I can see how he twists his own lips to accommodate to hers, to show her that their kiss still works.

What is it that strikes you most about this story?

Source: Selzer, 1978.
Photo Credit: Bob.Fornal (


  1. Blake says:

    This is absolutely beautiful!

  2. Dr. Kelly Welch says:

    THIS is the kind of love I hope couples strive for!

  3. Blake says:

    Most definitely! I think a lot of couples want this but they may feel as if it is too late to attain this point within their relationships. Thoughts?

  4. Dr. Kelly Welch says:

    It's NEVER too late–all that's required is a commitment to the commitment, and couples can work their way back (or reach, if they've never had it) to healthy levels of intimacy, passion, and commitment.

    But–BOTH partners have to want it. Yes, it's work…but so very well worth it!!

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