The Smile

by Helen Hagemann

       one hundred kinds of silence/according to the Chinese belief,
       each one distinct from the others.   Grave
Billy Collins writes of the 100 Zen silences.
I like to think about the art of 100 smiles.

In a time of uncertainty when the world
is tortured by viral deaths, wars and hate
the smile comes up trumps (a word association
I'd rather avoid). Perhaps I should simply say,
the smile is important during hard times. Why,
the pleasures are well known. Number 1 helps
the frown dissolve, number 10 lights up the blue
butterfly in your eyes and number 50 is the
ultimate of smiles: wide, wry with a hint of wise.
I could go on and number all the ways our
facial expression changes when we're in the
presence of others, if associates, friends or
family, but the important thing to remember is
that in any unrest or catastrophe the smile is
like a hundred kisses to your lover, one hundred
hugs to the forlorn, one hundred steps to the owl
and koala who wait in the limbs of dying trees.
And one thing it does really well, like the
bruised moon at twilight, the setting sun over
the mountain tops, it will always come again.

Poet biography:
Helen Hagemann holds an MA in Writing from ECU, has a chapbook Evangelyne & Other Poems published by Australian Poetry, Melbourne (2009) and a full collection of Arc & Shadow published by Sunline Press, Perth (2013). Her debut novel The Last Asbestos Town was published in May 2020 by Adelaide Books LLC, New York USA.

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