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At that moment she smiled but not so much with her eyes.
Still it was gleaming like that of a child’s or new pages
Not yet yellowed through with the antiquity of
Use (all courtesy of the whitening gels that do away
With the coffee, the wine and the nicotine that
Were once used by her to feel more grown up and now so
That she might forget the weight of her adultness). It
Isn’t always a camera turned that elicits the
Upturned corners of her lips or the dimples donned like
Costume jewelry. There are plenty of times one knows to
Simply “put on a face,” but
This time it was a camera that asked and to which she
Responded, “Everything’s fine,” with her plastic smile filled
With gleaming white lies.

Her son? His eyes did agree with his smile; he however
Unawares that there even was an etiquette
To grins. Of course, that’s why most of his photos had caused
Them all so much grief (they had to contrive ambushes
To trap his smiles), and why in retrospective flips through
His album they encountered “crank” or malaise in
Abundance and only occasion’ly that beam which waxed
And waned from one page to the next…his baby-fat-jowls
Filled with spontaneous and pure, white joy as now in
His mother’s arms he sat untainted, watching with wonder
A pantomiming man and a flash. Her wishing
He’d never need the gels, but knowing better that
Baby teeth are soon lost and how eas’ly her own teeth stained.

First published in April issue of Black Words on White Paper (2010)