Her Smile (Written March 9, 2018)

Her Smile

When the talk turns to sex and politics,
when the jokes become crude,
when she gets tired and her thoughts
begin to shoot off in all directions,

When the children who’ve been sitting
so quietly beside her on the bench
suddenly get up and run into the next room,
when she doesn’t hear or understand
what someone has said,

She smiles her beautiful smile
and they think she knows more
than she lets on. They think
she possesses the wisdom
that comes with age.

Who can resist her smile?
The way the lip curls in and back,
revealing the small, even teeth,
which she has cared for, faithfully,
all the years of her life. Friends

And strangers want to photograph her,
just to capture her perfect smile.
There’s nothing fake about her smile,
nothing put on. Her smile is never
at someone’s expense, to hurt.

Her smile means she’s happy
to be where she is, with the people
she’s with, even if sometimes
she doesn’t understand them,
and they don’t understand her.

Her smile opens the way for her
into almost any room where people
have gathered. Everyone loves her smile,
because it is free of all pretense.

Perhaps (Written March 2, 2018)


She could easily have fallen on the steps
coming out of Artemis’s house.
She could be on the way to the hospital
this very moment. Somebody, eventually,

Will think of contacting me.
She’s never been this late before.
She was supposed to call me at four
and let me know when
to pick her up. Something

Must have happened and I can only
imagine the worst. Perhaps she had a heart attack
and she’s lying on the floor in the livingroom
and the ambulance is on the way
and nobody knows if she’ll live or die.

Perhaps she hitched a ride with Lucy
and they were talking and Lucy
ran a red light and hit a brand-new
Lexus GX or a Land Rover
and threw her against the windshield

Because she wasn’t wearing a seatbelt,
which would not have been like her,
although recently, it’s true, she’s been very
forgetful. Perhaps fatigue
overtook her and she stretched out

On the bed in Artemis’s spare
bedroom, in the basement, and fell asleep.
I pace back and forth in the hallway,
glancing out the window every so often.
I sit at a table in the sun porch

And wait. Perhaps something she ate
disagreed with her and she vomited
on the black pleated skirt
we had washed just yesterday.
It’s five o’clock and she still hasn’t called,

I don’t know what to do with myself.
I’m too on edge to read or watch TV.
I should call Artemis
but just then a car pulls into the driveway
and Lucy gets out and helps my wife

Out of the car, onto the sidewalk. “We talked
a long time,” she smiles, as she brushes
past me, takes hold of the railing,
and climbs the stairs into the house.
Lucy grabs three old beat-up picture frames

From the back seat and wants to give them
to me. Perhaps we can find a use for them.
If we had a fireplace, I think,
I’m sure we would have no trouble.