Face Paint

by Kasey Chuang
Art by Vivian Huang
Issue: Ataraxia (Spring 2018)

A person smiles a fake smile into the mirror.

I’m tired of that plastic Smile,
With rubber band Lips pulled tight,
Teeth locked and bolted shut like doors,
And Cheeks that serve as a dry grave for bliss
That falls short
Of reaching propped open Eyes colored by dull shadow–
One of the thousand poorly done counterfeits
That you pin on every wall.

All of it to muffle the drowning screams,
Cover up the waves pounding against closed doors,
And hide the gashes in your heart
That draw rivers inside like cracks in a canoe.

The ocean was never meant to be a prisoner.
Let it go,
Let it free,
Let it out.
The brightest sun shines after the storm.

I want to see that vivid Smile,
With the edges of your Lips rising to the sky,
Teeth thrown open for ringing laughter,
And Cheeks that serve as a garden for blooming roses
Watered by fallen tears
That descend from open Eyes shining with joy–
One of the rare brilliant masterpieces
That you gift to very few