Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Smiling woman

She is always smiling.

She grins,
makes you feel good
about yourself
your life
your day

she makes you feel known
makes you feel cherished

you don’t know her at all

Sure, she will bring you coffee,
or tea if you prefer, and sure, she'll remember
what you prefer

when you ask how she is, you don’t
really want to know the answer

Of course she is always fine. To say otherwise
might break equilibrium, crack the illusion
of contentment and joy

if you knew her

[Look, a river of sadness marks her body
up her arms, where she once wrote her desolation
You won’t see the scars, weathered
with time unless
you care to search for them
nobody has looked
that closely
at the worn landscape of her skin
in a long time]

she is fine

her smile is the sun, her hair
a gentle puff, a brown cloud

[See here, how life has sculpted
her skin,
has run gentle fingers over the iridescent
stretch marks on her belly, nobody has asked
about the child nobody knows she had]

you don’t know her
you don’t want to know

She is always smiling.

Smiling woman II

Some day, her smile
is going to
open like a ripe
spilling its foul fermented
when that happens, you'd be
better off
in some other place
some place far from here,
where the suicide bombers
don't have your
and number

Smiling woman III

She had a lover once,

Not a fast-food lover but the slow-cooking kind
the month of August filled with long conversations
and the sounds of the evening

Slow, humid nights

Brown arms entangled, legs thrown over
the bed escaping the suffocating heat
of late summer, the contradiction
of fans and mosquito nets

Her lover patiently traced the fine
silver lines on her belly, the marks
on her arms with her fingertips,
with her rough tongue
smoothing lines
Learning her landscape, learning
her stories

Her smile was real

Rachel Westfall
March 25, 2008


DragonFly24 said...


I love to trail my mind's fingers along smiling woman's moonsilver traceries. When I think of her pomegranate seeds, I see this amazing artwork of Persephone turned upside down with all of the creatures of the dark lush earth rushing out of her mouth...

I think we are all smiling woman. Thank you for our tribute.


RachelW said...

I think you are right, she is part of all of us... the part that works in some mindless nameless job, taking care of other people who can't see beyond their noses.