Your face, my face

Featured image: Mannequin face, by Morris Huberland

Eyebrows furrowed, mouth falling open,
Upper lip curled to reveal your crooked front teeth.
You always make that face.
You’re making that face again.
You blink out of it,
Pursing your small lips together, un-scrunching your nose.
You shift away from me from across the room on the couch.
Eyes down. Forehead lines still creased into your face.
You get angry at me, call me mean.
Scream at me with bared teeth, a clenched jaw,
Fighting me under the yellow light from the fan.
You always make that face.
Retaliations from retaliations that were neither of our faults.
Generations upon generations have made this face.
An expression stuck on you that I don’t want stuck on me,
You’re making that face again.
You say things you don’t mean,
Too tired from your long day.
Your glasses cut into the bridge of your nose,
You don’t want to argue with me anymore.
Another night of yelling, not talking,
Never getting to tell you anything.
I really hated the face you made.
Ugly and tense all the time,
Why couldn’t you make a different one instead?
Intentional resentment for accidental negligence.
Because how can you not know you’re making it?
You keep forgetting to close your mouth,
You’re too focused on something else.
Am I rude to call it out?
Am I being disrespectful?
A little distance for a little release.
Rigidity replaced with wrinkles.
With time the tension has loosened.
You look a little softer, a little sadder.
I make the face now. Am I making that face again?

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Mannequin face” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1940 – 1979.