Nature's moody artist arranges
— in shape and size —
the unstretched canvas that will be the face.

Using the dabs grabbed
from the facial palette,

(eyes nose brow chin ears mouth
cheeks jaw forehead that little area
between the lip and nose)

the artist then paints like an
on-again, off-again drunkard,
scribbling and diddling and doodling

(long thin short wide droopy upturned
apart tight puffy sunken high low
pointy square scrunched stretched
bulging backset smooth rough)

to make whatever composition comes to mind.

In that rare good mood, the artist's work creates
a pleasing, a handsome vision.
In the darkest moments, the artist makes an aspect
sad to behold.

Most times the artist doesn't care
and ordinary countenances abound.

* * *

By vagary and heritage, the face finds its form
for a mirror's definition, with time and emotion
the only elements to shift it here and there.

Time's pushes and pullings
move the pieces around
in a slow, glacial ease.

Emotion, flashing from the brain,
makes lightning changes.

New quick patterns reflect the effect
with the brow, nose, mouth, eyes,
and the rest dancing to the
beat of the new mental tune.

Comes a smile, a frown, or a perplexion.
Comes surprise, fear, doubt, or a peacefulness.
Comes disgust, gloom, or a pointed pout.

After the emotion passes,
the face slides back into
its usual disposition.

* * *

But the artist plays the meanest pranks
on a few faces
by sticking an emotion
firmly and immutably in place.

One has an always-grin.
      (Others smile back before feeling betrayed.)
Another has a fixed quizzical look.
      (Others try to answer the unknown question.)
This one is given a forever-haughty expression.
      (Others feel knee-jerk doubt.)
That one is left with a perpetually unhappy appearance.
      (Others try to cheer before giving up.)
His has an eternal smirk.
      (Others strive to find the joke.)
Hers is rigged smelling a bad odor.
      (Others sniff or sidle away.)
Another's canvas is set in a constant scowl.
      (Others approach with defenses up.)

The victims of the artist's whim silently cry out:

That is not how I feel.

I am not grinning

It is just my face set this way.

It is not me.
It is not me.

* * *

This is what others can see.
So what are you that others cannot see?

Look deep within,
ignore the shallow surface.
Sweeten your heart
and move on.

It is doing that is the thing.
Nature's artist should not prevail.

Harry W. Yeatts Jr.