Cheer up, they said.
Don’t wish to, she answered.
I won’t tone down
to align with grumpy,
or twist to happy either.
I’m keeping myself, myself,
while letting them be them.

Only grownups make this a challenge.
The child knows
the unofficial world,
the version without rules.
What’s next is next,
you see it, you feel it, you do it.
Why are the grownups so pretzeled?

Life is utterly unsanctioned,
informal, and strangely private.
Unendorsed, and off the record.
In every way, unauthorized.
When they try to make you lean identical,
to march your mood and creeds
like a uniformed soldier,

to smile when they smile
and pull down your mouth
when all the others do —
nix the official, media rule.
Cheer up or don’t.
You can live loose, unbent,
unpretzeled as an innocent.

©Susa Silvermarie 2022

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