THE MASK

to K. L. H.

What is it made of
papier-mache
or clay
chalk-white and cold
a grave
to put your face in

or is it coarse-weave linen
wetted and beaten
molded to a frame
and meant to resemble truth
or beauty

It does resemble beauty

And what a thin skin
it is
delicate
almost transparent
and yet impregnable

What is it made of
shell or bone
a tusk carved out
and hollow
more than a weapon

or the ash-grey dung
of those who’ve hurt you
mixed with the tears
of those
you find reasons to hurt
compounded
shaped
smoothed
dried
hardened

Oh you hide yourself
in it

beautifully
hurting
hating and hurting

 

THE LAMPS OF NIGHT
Child
the lamps of night
burn brightly
softly
as you sleep
though you in your bed
of feathers
may not see them

The night birds and the bats
the soft grey feathered moths
are diving
through the streetlamps
as you sleep

The stars are out now
flying in circles
and so are the fireflies
flying in circles
of circles

Glow worms lie
radiant
under straw
little curled fingers
of light
curled as the moon
ringed in jewels
secure in their beds
of straw
and leaves
and feathers

Out in the wood
near a darkened pool
stones that no one sees
are glowing
golden

There are others too
enduring and subtle
lamps of magic

elves’ lamps
lamps of dreams
and the tiny lamps
the moon lights
on the leaves
of all the trees