Before Skin Turns to Dust

They attend his masquerade with their words exposed… And he fails to see them.

He glances at the tanned honey that spreads between the sun and their bones, criticizes the plump layering their flesh, mocks the rolling of their Rs… And he’s sure he knows them.

I wonder… if he’ll ever understand that none can see a soul without reading into her days, without choosing to dance in his old hiking boots, without smiling through the clench of our broken teeth.

see the heart and bone
before they’re whitewashed by life,
and dreams turn to dust

(not so) wee note…
– I wrote this poem almost two months ago, for Sanaa’s Prompt Nights. But didn’t post it then because it was too long to also link to a prompt at The Garden. So, I wrote a second poem. A few days after that, Rommy published “Faded, Not Forgotten”, and we were spooked (in a good way) by the similarities between the words we chose to express our ideas of masks. The motifs themselves were not such a big surprise, of course… I suspect that every person (with a beating heart and a thinking brain) is a tad worried (and thinking furiously) right now. And if the heart and brain in question happen to be of Hispanic descent, love children who aren’t White, are non-Christians, and so on… well, then the worrying gets even more complex.
– Linked to the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads (Tuesday Platform).

“Behind the Mask of Words”, by Cassandra Black

43 thoughts on “Before Skin Turns to Dust

  1. What I love about this is that you hint at its meaning without giving much away – the only real clue in the word ‘masquerade’ and I, as the reader, am left to interpret it – that is what a poem should be – a hint – a suggestion. In your first line you’ve said that all so well!
    My favourite part is the haiku – wonderful!

  2. Whitewashed by life. That is so true. In the end, we all want the same things, security for ourselves and loved ones, health, meaning, pleasure. We start out so vibrant, so colorful. Whitewashed by life so that we can fit in, be safe, be non-threatening.

  3. Mag, Sharon hit the nail on the head… ‘whitewashed’.. omg.. the tests we are put thru in life– I realize they are lessons to make us see, to improve us, or to make us see that we may have been wrong. And yes, at times it feels like we’ve gone thru the wringer/whitewashed…
    “We start out so vibrant”… Children are vibrant until they start experiencing and the years whitewash us as we go day by day..

    • OK, now that I have the initial gushing out of the way, can I also say how clever it is that you used the idea of a masquerade and turned it on it’s head here? The guests at this masquerade are more like hostages and have no say in the masks forced upon them.

  4. Masks are a familiarity for me, for a life lived onstage is one made of them – and, I think, also finding one’s place offstage without them. Yet, so many of us wear them all the time, and never dig to find out what our hearts & bones & minds are made of. As poets, of course, that is our lifeblood. What scares me in your thoughts & poem here is that the very words that define us may also be the ones that become our masks. Perhaps masks are indeed frightening, when we become too accustomed to them…losing our selves in the process…Thanks for sharing, Magaly. Beautiful & chilling, as always.

  5. I found the prose poetry to be very well written – the almost abstract way the prejudice is presented evolved at a measured pace. The stanza at the end provides a profound punch-line.

  6. This is a spectacular haibun, it takes me to ponderings of Jouvert mornings here in Trinidad; the start of the carnival parades.

    Have a nice Tuesday

    much love…

  7. I fear that whitewashed will be the norm… I hate being the norm but I see how it might be envied… and of course with changes happens we all have to go careful

  8. ‘I wonder… if he’ll ever understand that none can see a soul without reading into her days, without choosing to dance in his old hiking boots, without smiling through the clench of our broken teeth.”

    Some really wonderful word choice above. And what a striking picture to go along with it!

  9. So many many killer lines here–and masks always fascinate me–the one the world seems to be wearing now is truly frightening, yet I can’t help but feel that the face underneath it is even worse. We are coming to those ‘times that try men’s souls’ indeed. Exquisite poem, Magaly, even if prompted by a reality that is too hungry and full of looming terrors.

  10. see the heart and bone
    before they’re whitewashed by life

    Come to think of it! How the purity of a person ought to remain untouched. Sadly life has a say! Going through life’s challenges has contaminated and spoilt him.


  11. “before they’re whitewashed by life”

    Oh Magaly had I not read the note, I would have sworn you eavesdropped on a conversation I had last night. Your words eerily run on a similar vein. That ending haiku seals it.

  12. Oh, but I can see through your thoughtful words, Mz. Magaly. For our own peace of mind, we must trust, and not stress. There is now no other way. xoxoxo

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