To Be the Sun

It’s true, what moms warn their kids: “Don’t make that face. It’ll freeze that way.” Flesh isn’t stone but it holds the shape that is most familiar, most practiced. There’s a woman who lives in the nursing home I visit – let’s call her Myrna – with a face like a big, loud NO. Myrna’s face is sculpted into deeply creased, frowning unrest. Surely, it’s a picture of how she has felt for most of her life. It’s hard to look at her face without feeling sad for her.

But the funny thing is how quickly Myrna’s face changes when someone smiles or speaks to her kindly. There’s a startling, wonderful transformation. She completely lights up. She grins wide, like a little kid. It’s as if she’s just waiting for a good word or soft touch. Like she’s a tight-petaled flower that instantly relaxes at the kiss of the sun. So, I love smiling at her. I feel an immediate reward: her happiness lights up my own.

Maybe that’s what it feels like to be the sun – never picking and choosing, just shining, even into the darkest places, grinning to everything, everyone, amplifying one’s own radiant joy by setting it alight everywhere.

I wrote this poem for Myrna:




appear to be


Your son

turns away


at the door.

Your mother



The company

cuts you off

for following

your heart.

And then

you notice even

your own face

over the decades

has dried into

a twisted


shield of fear.

Seeing it

in the mirror

deflates you.

But this morning


out of the blue––

a memory of

Buster the dog,

belly up, wagging

and grinning––

sparks a sudden

little smile

then a big one

shining out

from the mirror.

The frightened squint

melts into


You grin

into your own eyes

with the

warm, prideful love

only your grandmother

ever gave you.

Your eyes become

her eyes

in the mirror

and she transforms

the shield

into a flower


and opening.

Your eyes are

beautiful after all,

you think,

surprised at first,

then admitting you

knew that all along.

Here, with

nobody watching,

beyond all

obstacles, you are

childishly happy

to find yourself

an invincible









2 responses to “To Be the Sun

  1. It is so true – a smile turns us bright and on!
    I love the image of a buckled expression.

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