Our Eyes Play Dead

Notice the way we turn our heads?
The subtle way we pretend that
even our falls are tripping with grace,
like we stumble on purpose.
But our hearts never took the crash
course in pretending, there’s no lie in
there waiting to be found.
That’s the only place where you can
still find truth, even if it hurts.
It has to hurt so we can learn that this
world has pain everywhere.
The first time you scraped your knee,
bruised your ego, broke your heart.
It didn’t hurt forever, but just enough
to never forget. We don’t forget
our own pain, but we forget to remember
the pain of someone else. It’s easier to
ignore than it is to acknowledge,
so we shut the door, close the blinds,
sit in the dark. We shine the light on our
own pain and make bones out of
someone else’s, occasionally throw
flowers into the closet of where their
skeleton cries. Turn the door knob
to that walk-in grave, hang up your smile
on those hangers of grief, and seal the
baseboards with applauded approval for
the perfection of how our eyes play dead.

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry

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