Smiling Behind Masks
August 11, 2020 — 4:11

Author: Dorothy Johnston  Category: Uncategorized  Comments: 0

Here’s another lockdown poem, partner to one I wrote in an earlier post.

Smiling Behind Masks

with thanks to Marilyn Chalkley, who gave me the idea

Smiling behind masks
is becoming something of an art.
Smiles starting with the eyes
move downwards to a barrier
of cotton or of polyester,
a definite, clear line in daylight,
less so before sunrise
when I walk by the sea.
Masks cover more than half a face,
while the rest must carry
all expressions, or else hint at secret ones.

Smiling behind masks
is becoming something of an art.
People have chosen many shades,
from black to white, flowers and swirling abstracts,
football colours marking tribal loyalties.
Eyes speak, making up for hidden mouths,
for noses which might wrinkle at a joke well told.
A loosening of skin around the temples,
at the hairline, becomes a message
and a kind of grace.

Smiling behind masks
is becoming something of an art.
I wait beside the other sunrise walkers
staring at the place where sky meets sea.
My dog waits with me. Others, too, have dogs,
minding their own business.
Gold gathers strength on the horizon,
thrusting pink and grey aside.
I sigh behind my mask,
warm air captured then released.
The first morning, like the song says:
the first birds have spoken earlier, while it was still dark,
while I hurried to get ready; coat, then shoes, then this thing
that I breathe in and out behind,
as the gold bursts and the day says, here I am.

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