The Mask

The mask

What do you see?

Whom do you see?

Is it the music or the song?

The in or the out?

The you or the me?

And how do you know what you see?

The signs? The sighs. The eyes.

What sadnesses are in those eyes, shadowed by loss and grief?

Smile lines? Grief lines? Trial lines?

Trial? Always on trial, on show, on display.

Which you are you today?

Cheerful, tearful, fearful…

Where, why, are you today?

Loss, hurt, shame, grief,

Hide away in the dark darkness,

Storms waiting to break, striking shocks into your being.

So you turn away. Why wouldn’t you?

There is only so much a soul can bear to know.

The rest, in the darkness, is locked up.

Not forgotten, just hidden.

Invisible? No. It is seen but passed by.

The mask.

Oh, when can you take it off?

When will you be able to feel again, to open your eyes, to drop your clothes?

It is so…so tiring, carrying your mask, acting the role…

Hamlet, Macbeth, Lear, Othello…

Tortured souls, tortured, by grief, pain, lust, unknowing.

Can you lay down your mask? Just for a moment?

For that softness that cradles your cheek,

For the gentle, round embrace of peace,

The delicate, curved rose petal,

Scented of times remembered,

Pure joy.

Do I paint the mask? or the darkness?

A likeness.

A likeness of…what?

Look, look closely, then step back…

Is it an anger line, or sadness?

A frown or a question?

Lips so red and round, or thin and tight…

Hair to the right? or left? Up or down?

Curled or straight?

The eyes? The eyes give you away.

Who is it? Who is it?

Who am I seeing?

Who do you want me to see?

Who will you allow me to see?

And is that who I should paint?

Look closely. Look closely.

Look through the mask.

And what is my responsibility?

There are no rules, no guidelines, no protocols.

Suddenly, I have the power to create or destroy,

To swell or diminish, to round or sharpen.

To lead you gently into scented places you had forgotten, or

To hurl you through your safe stone walls into dungeon depths of hell.

How can I paint you, knowing this? Holding this lightning rod,

This magical, omnipotent conductor…

The conductor’s power creates a sound painting from black and white notes.

Different, every performance, dynamic, changing.

None right, some wrong, always new.

Watch out, then, if anyone wants to paint you!

Wear your best, impenetrable mask, if you want to stay hidden.

3 thoughts on “The Mask

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