Take bread away from me, if you wish,
take air away, but
do not take from me your laughter.
—Pablo Neruda, “Your Laughter”
My mother always covers her mouth when she laughs. Once I showed her
what I thought was a great photo, and she said, “Oh, my teeth.”
Scientists document our rhythmic breaths and vocalizations.
It isn’t always a joke: ask Tanganyika villagers about the epidemic of ’62.
My father’s gleeful, booming laugh—I haven’t heard that sound in years.
My pre-teen daughter, her self-conscious age—I wonder if she remembers.
Did you know researchers have tickled rats? Did you know rats titter,
at frequencies too high for humans to hear? Thank goodness for science.
My husband’s laughter, so rare: “I made Daddy laugh! That never happens!”
A baby’s easy, instinctive smile, when seeing another human face.
An exuberance of preschoolers, a giggle of girls; a hoot of old ladies, a guffaw
of old men. Shall we define ourselves by the ways in which we laugh?