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My Face is My Autobiography

This poem is both dedicated to, and the result of, my friendship with my favorite Swabian, Dr. Ralph Wirth, who sent me the German statement. Jeder Mensch ist Kunst, gezeichnet vom Leben. (Every person is art, drawn from life.). Ralph (and his fellow German, Paul Hesse) also get honorable mention as the two friends I have who are kind enough to point out any grammatical or spelling errors they may find in my writing, and that is the best kind of friend to have.


My face is my autobiography--

If you like my smile, I want you to know I wasn’t born with it.

Of course, I smiled from infancy, though it may have been gas.

Rather the lines and wrinkles you see when I smile,

Are chapters in my biography.

The lines are witnesses to days of laughter and tears,

(By grace, the former outnumbers the latter).

Those lines in my forehead?

Well, one is from worry and the other from puzzlement.

The gray whiskers outnumber the black ones,

As if there is more salt than pepper—

Perhaps the salt is my preservative.

But I am made of clay—clay that is reworked by the hands of time,

And fashioned by a life, if not into a work of art,

Then at least into a vessel sufficient to daily use.

My face is my biography,

The story of how the clay was molded and tempered by fire,

Cracked, repaired, and refashioned.

I don’t know that it is exactly beautiful, but it is apparently durable.


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