A Smile Not a Smile

an infant, aged one,
on the floor, on his butt
dressed in fineries,
booted feet splayed apart,
tugs on a shoe lace,
looks at the camera

eyes wide open, a smile
all the elements just right
for the portrait that pleases
the camera man, and mother

sixty years later he looks
at that picture, and sees
the boy within, recognizes
the smile that isn’t a smile
the eyes wide open,
not the eyes of delight

he sees the underlying
apprehension, suspended breath,
the persistent question
– “what do they want from me?”

 

 

     

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