Poetry: My Smile Is a Woman’s Work by Cyndie Randall

Cyndie Randall’s “My Smile Is a Woman’s Work” pushes, with thin restraint, into a heated critique and commentary of gender expectations. Here, we’ve been invited into the dangerously erotic “shroud of the tongue” behind a smile, a woman’s grin, with teeth.


My Smile Is a Woman’s Work

When this man I love begins to speak
he even surprises himself –
coming right on time,
posturing as if God
slid a pole down the back of his shirt,
sent him to do a good work on me.
I nod because the speaker needs it,
because he’s pink and eager to heal.
But I can’t hear him.
My ears are spider webs, I say.
My brain, a deep cave.
I point to my stigmata, watch him
dig fingers in and root around.
He makes a podium
out of my darkest moments.
Word on the street is I can trust
my own judgement
about the man who speaks
but who does not listen.
If I were a man, I would do nothing
but lean back with a look
of quiet satisfaction.
But I am not a man.
I put my truest words to bed
under the shroud of my tongue.
What a full mouth I have.
It’s no wonder I keep opening,
keep spreading my lips.

Cyndie Randall

Cyndie Randall's poems have appeared in Crab Creek Review, Longleaf Review, The Pinch, Whale Road Review, MORIA, and elsewhere. She works as a therapist and lives among the Great Lakes.

Close Menu