“SMILING EYES” by Anne Stewart Helton

Usually, when I communicate with people, I read their mouths. I know most conventional wisdom says the truth or meaning is in the eyes but I have always read people’s mouths. I can usually get a pattern of speaking from someone and then watch the nuances of their feelings bleed through to their mouths and lips with their words and expressions.. Are their words congruent with their expressions? It can be a little twitch in the lip that matches words known to be false or a tongue in the cheek that shows embarrassment or a joke. Perched lips are easy as they show curiosity or irritation.  Smiles can seem joyous or even fake or forced if stuck too long! Sometimes arrogance or pride comes out the same in a pattern of a sideways smile or smirk of the lips or even a pointed, bragging tongue with a tittering laugh. And usually a sad, flat mouth, with flat words usually screams disappointment, depression and pain to me. Thus, you can see why my brain is upside down during these pandemic days as most people are wearing masks. This strange time of Corona Virus or Covid-19 leaves me out of sorts as I can’t read peoples’ mouths!!

Perhaps this is an issue for you too!
I’m a rule follower so my only outings during this quarantine, stay at home period to “flatten the curve”, (which seems to be a giant social science experiment to me), are taking walks and going masked-up to the Grocery Store. As we obediently stand 6 feet apart in lines to get in, I make sure my mask and gloves are on and I don’t really look at anyone. We have social distanced ourselves into ghosts now and sometimes feel like we are in the envelope of the Virus itself at times.

So, I am currently learning, after all these years, to look up to the eyes for connections to any words I’m hearing. Do I see frowns and wrinkles around the eyes to indicate a smile? Well, that may depend on how much Botox the person still has inside them after weeks in quarantine.  Are people tired and frustrated from the anxiety and fear of an unknown Virus jumping like an alien from body to body around the world?  Is that why their eyes are swollen and red, from crying at night or, I ponder, are they sick with early symptoms of the Virus? Are the people in the grocery stores hiding any symptoms because they are afraid they may be carted away like videos seen from China? Are the eyes of the elders, like me, frowning but trying to appear invisible or happy as we are the so-called vulnerable ones and are wondering if this Virus was meant to wipe us out? Are people scared when they see with their own eyes what the news has told them that some shelves are empty?

As I look up at people walking the grocery store aisles, I try to see eye to eye to any fellow human, albeit 6 feet away. Most eyes seem focused, distant, obsessed on whatever food they have come to view and buy. However, some eyes I could say, seem hungry for contact, for human interaction. I realize I am projecting with my own eyes to that feeling but some eyes break into a smile. You just know their mouths are smiling behind the masks. You just know their cheeks are lifted and their teeth shine. Maybe the women still even have lipstick on like me. My eyes glow back to them, my smiling eyes sparkle and sometimes tear up as I feel the importance of lost eye to eye contact. It’s hard to cry with a mask on and my eyes drip at times for the lonely and scared who are suffering and dying from an unseen body snatcher. As humans we must continue moving forward, full throttle and redeem that full face contact even as we do the work to snuff out the beast wearing a crown that circled our world.

Our strong, smiling eyes must become ray-guns that destroy the pain and suffering this monster inflicted on our world…they will, they must. As the Welsh Poet Dylan Thomas wrote: “Do not go gentle into that good night.”

And we won’t, we have the smiling eye of God over us.



6 thoughts on ““SMILING EYES” by Anne Stewart Helton

  1. Susan Stewart says:

    Well written and so true. I miss seeing the whole face. It gives so much information about what is really meant!! Love, Susan


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