The Smile of A Woman
I would say that once there was a princess, but really this is the story of just about every woman I've met. Once there was a woman, and she was told to smile.
Grandmothers told her when she was small. Teachers told her in school. Passersby told her as she was minding her own business, walking down the street. Coaches told her - you can't enjoy your sport if you aren't smiling while you do it. Men told her - smile, smile, as if their own self-worth depended on it.
The woman did not want to smile. Not always. Not when she was dreaming in her grandmother's warmly scented kitchen, or pondering lessons, or imagining out a story while walking to the store. Not when she was fierce with physical activity. Not when some man gave her nothing to smile about. She wasn't unhappy, she was merely quiet, contemplative, tristful, dreamy, distracted, content, private, worried, calculating her weekly budget, entranced, fascinated, tired ... or a thousand other things that did not elicit a smile from her heart just in that moment.
As she grew older, the woman came to realise that she was infact in a war. The territory being fought over was her very soul. As long as she was smiling for the sake of other people, she was signalling that she surrendered to society, order, patriarchy. Not only was she behaving how they said she ought, she was being how they said she ought. And her smile was her white flag, letting them know she hid no secret guerilla intentions.
But the thing is, over the years she had become a woman who took herself seriously. So when they told her to smile, she showed her teeth, or flashed her eyes, and they understood immediately - this woman was going to uncheerfully defend of her choice to be contemplative, sombre, anything damned thing at all. And they could just stand back.
She was a guerilla poem.