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Mask of Grace












MASK OF GRACE


The first thing he said to me

Was that I could take it off

That I didn’t need to wear a mask

It wouldn’t make a difference

Not to you

Not now


I didn’t want him to be here

Strutting his ownership of you

Like a mating peacock

I hate him

Just like you said I would


Remember when you told me the story

Of how he betrayed you?

And here he is again

Without a mask

Sniffing your money


Before he let me in here, he said,

We’re related

I’ve known her all my life

Implying

That our friendship was nothing more than

A supermarket acquaintance


You know?


How you meet people in the supermarket

And you have a shared look, a connection

Because the guy by the pasta is scratching his balls

And you both scuttle away and your eyes meet

And you think exactly the same thing at the same time and


POW!


There it is

That human connection

And it’s really quick, but it’s there

But even though it means something

It’s also gone as quickly as it came

And then you are by the tuna fish

And they are by the organic yoghurt

And it’s gone


But not us

I’ve known you for 5 years now

A friendship that was unexpected

A friendship that has hummed over and over

With the unanswered question


How much time?


Just 5 minutes, he said to me

That man in the garden

As his peacock feathers twitched

And shimmered in the heat

That’s all I was allowed

She may not even know who you are

He said


But you do, don’t you?

Even though I am wearing one of my masks

Not the paper one

I took that off

Gave it to him

To cover his beak


This is my mask of calm

It will not get angry

It will not get upset

It will not cry


It’s the one I wore the day

Your cancer came back

You had forgotten to put yours on

And I saw everything

The fear

The question


How much time?


Then when I got the call last week

After a year of waiting

I put the wrong mask on

By mistake


Stupid


I thought that by wearing

The brave and resilient one

I would protect myself


But later I was in the supermarket

And it slipped

Fell on the floor

And I began to cry by the onions

Someone made a joke

And when I turned to look at them

Looking for some human connection

I couldn’t find any

And now that mask has gone


I only have three others

The first one

I wore in the garden

It was made of paper

A flimsy blue barrier

To stop disease


The second one

I am wearing now

The mask of calm

Can you see it?

Is it working?

Because when I look at you

I can feel it slipping


The last one is the mask of grace

And I’m not allowed to wear it

Yet

We only wear it once in our life

The moment we confront our own mortality


This mask is soft

Easy to wear

Hard to distinguish

In fact

It barely looks like you are wearing a mask at all


I see you are wearing it

Although it is fading

You are so pale now

That it is hard to see your face

Your light

Your grace




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On losing my friend today

And when the day ends I let moments play out Like fractured pieces of music Heard from across a street A wooden gate that can’t be opened A dog, distressed Leaping up, Tongue hanging A boy made a man

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