They call them laugh lines.
Down around the eyes telling stories
that turn out not so funny.
The truth behind them is simply
keeping up appearances.
Years of looking happy so no one
really knows the truth.
Smiling for work, for your boss.
At neighbors and parents of school events.
Smiling at the children, the husband
and family members.
Yet no one notices the pain in the eyes.
Fear masked day in and day out.
So much that even when you look at your own
reflection you don’t recognize the creature
At the very moment no one anticipates
a problem, it happens.
Your world changes to something unrecognizable
yet it’s oddly calming in the same notion.
Day-to-day struggles, stresses and concerns
melt away in that moment.
Even though new worries can set
a blurred frenzy of doubt for the future.
Bills, gas, groceries, then a petulant child at the store
who may not survive without a new toy.
It just feels like it will be manageable.
I have to wonder if it is not the optimism of the middle class.
Those of us that have managed to tape and paste a modest life
for ourselves and our families.
Seems we were always one paycheck away from
having to move in with Aunt Rita.
As I turn in my keys.
Turn in my identification.
Throwing a tantrum in my head screaming, “You idiots!!”
Warm sun hits my face as I exit the building one final time.