Daylyn Carrigan is a third-year English Writing and Communications double major at Pacific Lutheran University. She is thankful to be sharing her poetry for the second time through Saxifrage, and hopes to continue to display her work here in the future.
This Is How You Learn to Smile
Mondays don’t deserve to be called
the worst. That honor goes to
Ten o’clock and I greet the crosswalk.
Walk and then stop. Listen to the engine.
Listen to the whistle. Listen again.
Walk. Then stop. Listen to the voice.
Listen to the voice get angry.
Listen to the voice, listen to smile.
Dodge the yellow truck and jump for the
sidewalk. Thursday betrayed you again.
Look down. Listen to the voice, listen to
Smile. Do you know how to smile?
Forget the way the teacher played with your hair.
Forget the way that those unsolicited images
are still there. Forget the other words that
they yelled at you. Forget rumors, forget stares,
forget touches, comments, lies. Forget how he
followed you home. Forget how the other he
followed you home. Forget how he trespassed
your No. Forget how he passed go.
This is how you learn to smile.
One day while looking for a quiet escape,
I wandered into a home of sparkling waters,
and I fell asleep under sunburnt skies, laying on
a tuft of grass that brushed my skin like velvet.
The afternoon heat was my blanket, and the
hodgepodge of clover and lawn daisies my pillow.
I wish that I had thought instead to fight it,
that swallowing of sight, for in my sleep I missed
Solid, striped, polka-dotted children raced around
the wide and looming torso of a giant sequoia.
Toddlers learning to walk fell, landed in grass, soft
bark, and stayed on their backs and made angels.
Pugs on purple leashes dragged their paws against
pavement, and stopped to rest in the ribbons of light.
Metal bodies pulled in and out of their compact
spaces, danced between going to and leaving from.
Until the grid drew empty.
Vibrant colors clung to the sky until the very last
moment, before fading into a somber slate of black.
The wind teased the surface of the lake, making
ripples that seemed to dance with the twinkling of stars.
The moon took ownership of the earth for a few
hours, and revealed her face to the dwellers of the night.
Robins raised songs of love, and the trees carried the tune
on the backs of their branches until the sun rose once again.
And then so did I.
But now, while looking for an escape from the quiet,
I am lost with nowhere to wander but everything to
wonder. I lay alone in a room under a creaking roof,
on a white sheet, a white comforter, a white pillow.
The feeling is the sort of familiar that creates a yearning,
a want to return to something or to find the unknown.
I wish to return to the warmth of the sun, to the smell
of fresh dewdrops on the tall grass, to return to the velvet.
I wish that I hadn’t missed everything.