One Single Impression: Mask
No mask,she said.
Not even an eye mask, she said.
Though the mask was beautiful
Though it worked so well with the costume
Though it completed the illusion
Though I had made it
No, she said. I won't.
I am a witch
Dancing in a sea of flames
And this is my cape full of black magic
I am a witch
Under the brim of this pointed
I will look you in the eye and be that.
I can look you in the eye and be that.
There's some family history in this one. For most of Adella's life, I have made her Halloween constumes. The year of the witch costume, she did, indeed, refuse to wear the mask. As the tone of this poem suggests, she was adamant and I was annoyed. I am slow seamstress, and the project took a good long while. The word "brat" crept into my thoughts more than once. In the end, she had her way.
Looking back, I realize I was the brat, though. She was telling me something important that I didn't hear because I couldn't get past the time I had put into the making of the costume. She was telling me in her sweet, direct, innocent, uncomplicated way that she could be the witch. Be the witch. Not pretend to be the witch, but be the witch. This wasn't about embracing the contradiction (the witch and the Pilgrim/angel/little sweetheart of my wild imagination) because there wasn't one. She would live the adventure, not pretend to. Her mind did not divide the world into good and bad; her mind embraced the world as it was--beautiful and whole.
Masks disturbed her. She could sit down and paint and decorate one because gluing stuff together was fun, but these baubles were not for wearing. They suggested division and contradiction, concepts that shook her world from the outside; she was not willing then to let them in.
Thinking of masks this week, my mind wandered to the craft store and the plastic masks that look like skins ripped off the faces of department store mannequins. They are vacant, cold. Though the masks of old were intended to convey the thoughts and personality of the characters wearing them, these masks refuse entry to the observer. In this way, they are forbidding. They suggest a divided mind.
Adella's candor, her innocence, her commitment to the truth of her imagination got me to thinking about adults and the masks we create. There are masks of tightly woven words that form suits of armor between the speaker and the rest of the world. There is the mask of the avatar, the image that says something about a person but does not reveal the person. There is the mask of kindness, of friendliness. There is the mask of sarcasm. There's always a way to keep others out.
Look me in the eye; no mask.