19 July 2017

To My Masks, Goodbye

Neutral Mask
source

 

I love the masks I made and hung
upon the wall, but those of you that
made me? You that came as I
had need, piecing yourselves into
life rafts and duck blinds so that I
might both survive and thrive, do I
love you?  I thank you.  I even
pour forth libations in your honor.
But you should expire! 

Instead you hang in and pop up
as if still welcome, and though
I take you off and off and off
to be naked and transparent,
there you are, multiplying
in so many variations
that I feel like Bartholomew
with his five hundred hats.*
Did I need you all? 

I’m fascinated by your agency,
your beauty and your number,
but now I only want to look
once more before I release you.
So, line up along the wall.
Let’s have the retrospective.
And then let me un-hang the show
or--you can stay there upon the wall.
but rest, please, cease to enthrall.


Revised 7/23  (The comments are from before the revision.)

*"The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins" by Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss)

My blog poems are rough drafts. 
Please respect my copyright. 
© 2017 Susan L. Chast




13 comments:

Sherry Blue Sky said...

So well said, Susan. I relate to the many faces we have turned to the world. I think my favourite one is now, plain and gnarly as it is. It took decades to peel off all the layers to get this far. I really resonate with this poem.

indybev said...


Ah yes, we have to be well-seasoned to hang up the many masks, and be secure in showing the world who be really are. Well said.

Sanaa Rizvi said...

Oh.. my freaking.. LORD! This is absolutely stunning!❤️ Especially love; " I’m fascinated by your adroitness, your beauty, but now I want to let you go.So, once more, let me see you. Let’s have a retrospective.And then let me un-hang the show or keep you there upon the wall. where you can rest, cease to enthrall." *Applauds*❤️

Old Egg said...

So few know the real us, we all have that basketful of masks, however in this strange world we live in we need them as they are sometimes a defence when we need to be strong. Who doesn't remember the child at school who burst into tears at every opportunity when things didn't go their own way. So my advice is always to keep one or two handy!

Martin Kloess said...

Such a rich imagination, delving into this relationship.

Sumana Roy said...

When we have to deal with this dark world, living in it, masks will pop in from time to time and sometimes even without our knowledge. May be as a defense mechanism? :)

Marja said...

Your poem makes me think of the masks we learn to wear from our parents and environment and it so difficult to shed them as it gets reinforced over and over. In my case only lost the mask as I moved to the other side of the world which extremely hard but effective

Panchali said...

Thank you. Why do not more people have the courage to speak about this. I am glad that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Helps me believe in myself in this utterly crazy journey :)
Powerful write, Susan.

Mary said...

Not sure I completely understand this...but to me it speaks of all of the masks each of us wear. We put on one mask, take it off, put on another one. Depending on the situation. After a while we can be confused about which mask is real. Perhaps they all are?

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

I think one of life's most difficult tasks is to leave behind our masks. For some of us, it's a lifelong process with many false starts.

ayala said...

A wise and honest poem.

Wendy Bourke said...

One of the few 'gifts' of age that makes it into the 'plus-side column' is the shedding of those masks. Certain work places (in particular where a service of some sort is performed and where a multitude of people with many, many views and belief systems come together) pretty much insure that everyone hide behind a fairly colorless 'work mask'. One of the best things about retirement is that the 'cover-up' stops.

A strong, liberating wonderfully rendered piece. A pleasure to read.

Magaly Guerrero said...

We are certainly a collection of everything we've ever been. But, like your poem suggests, that will never mean that we are exactly what we were or that we might ever want to be that again... unless we might. In the mean time, yesterday can hang in there... while we live today.