WE'RE TOLD TO SMILE
because this is what women do: we smile
through the insults, through the well I thought
you wouldn’t mind, through the paraphrasing
of what we just said because clearly it makes
more sense coming from a deeper voice.
We smile through the missed promotions
and the limited funding. We smile through
being called Mrs. when Dr. is correct.
We smile through getting called honey
and sugar and baby. We smile through
it was only a joke and don’t take everything
so serious. We smile through judgements
on our breasts, our hips, our legs, our ass.
We smile through the accidental touches,
the well-intended suggestions, the good-
natured flirting. We smile through your leg
pressing against ours on trains, on buses.
We smile because we’re making a big deal
out of nothing. We smile because if we didn’t
our teeth might get knocked out, our throats
crushed – a reminder of all the things
we have to smile about.