By Olivia Lockey || Contributing Writer

Ode to the strangers who smiled

I want to love the strangers who smiled

and waved;

the steady speed walker,

with hairs graying at the roots of her secure ponytail

unbothered by the joggers zooming past,

who lifted her hand ever so


tapping the air with each finger

as if to play

an invisible piano

of greeting.

I want to love the strangers who never missed

a “Good morning;”

the old man walking

his small, scruffy mutt,

who hoped that “good morning” would lead to

“how are you”

and then he could talk for minutes

about how his oldest granddaughter

is visiting

and how she is going to be a doctor

one day.

I want to love the strangers who remembered

how lovely,

how important it was;

the two gossiping women

who knew Barbara’s third marriage

was never enough

to distract from

a quick

closed-lip smile

of recognition.

To the strangers who tipped their heads

to one another

I trusted you

the way a toddler trusts his tilted training wheels

unprepared to let go

of balance

I did not imagine a world without smiles

so deprived of mouths

missing those unmasked shades of rouge.

Eyes are not a window to the soul.

I try to love the strangers who walk on the other side

of the street; 

the little girl,

new to this world

clutching a hand that feels familiar


I imagine,

(behind a crimped mask)

pulls back the corners of her lips,

cinched like curtains,

teeth a beaming sky,   

calling for me

to sing back that beautiful, silent,


Sophomore Olivia Lockey is a contributing writer, her email is