Shh. Don't tell.

“Congratulations. You must be delighted.
All your hard work paid off.” A smile.
Eyes crinkled in sincere pride. Genuine warmth.

I should say “Thanks.” I should be cordial.
I should take the offered hand
and recognize my recognition.

But instead, I want to say,
“What ‘hard work’ have I done today?
What meretricious feat have I paraded
to finagle this, this cereal box prize? I don’t deserve it.”
But instead, I avert my eyes.
But instead, I take the hand
and move on with life.

Tell me, before the glow dissipates,
the grins evaporate, the shadows and masks
of self-deception, introspection relax,
while reality unravels, my little devils
reclaim my name, assign the blame,
reveal my shame, take false acclaim.
Convince me. Remind me.
But please, if you will, blind me
from all these, my follies.
The truth I reject. I am perfect
to all eyes. It’s all lies.

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