Sentinel Poetry (Online) #25     2nd Anniversary Issue    December 2004


He looked into the mirror
and wondered where
the smile had gone.
It was there once,
long ago, on another
face, in another place.
The one he loved then called it
his "crooked-assed" grin
and there are pictures,
scattered memories,
of sailors hoisting
beers, buddy shots
on liberty and, later,
posing with loves
and dancing at love-ins
and, much later, family
shots before the break-ups
and the scatterings;
long-ago joy shown
by a wide, toothy grin.
Decades passed --
laugh lines hidden
by a beard and lips
that learned to hide
broken teeth.
Staring at his mirror
image, he attempted what
he imagined to be a smile
and the mirror reflected
a scrunched up face,
closed lips curled
slightly upwards,
puffy cheeks,
just as the now love
wandered by.
"What are you doing?"
she asked.
"Trying to find my smile,"
he said, turning toward her.
"I seem to have lost it."
"Don't be silly," she said,
kissing his cheek.
"You are a smile."

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David Allen was born in Charleston, S.C. and raised on Long Island, N.Y. He lives in Okinawa, Japan.