I’ve started a mask collection.  I know, Americans can turn anything into a reason to hoard, but I am fascinated with the mask, how it conceals, protects, alienates.  Masks have often been a cultural tradition in societies because our faces are powerful and how we cover them shows what we value.  Somehow masks during Covid have become political which makes then even more provocative. I’m not very good with politics because I can sympathize with either side and lack the conviction to stand behind anyone but Jesus.  This poem explores the masks we wear just to function during election season.

This is not a mask

It’s a shield and a veil and a customs wall and a blankie and a wrap only not the tortilla kind and it’s a scarf to hold back your Covidy breath that leaks out like a tire with a rusted nail and that rusted nail is the economy but this is a banana peel stapled to a shoe lace so I can shop and this is a big band-aid/duct tape to keep all your secrets from falling out and a turtle neck rolled up over my mouth that never stops talking but you can’t hear me anyway when I put this on like a firefighter making my way to find you on the top floor of the World Trade Center. They used to call this a medical uniform or the Chinese way of life but now it’s the mark of the beast and an abundance of caution and underwear for the face and my Halloween joke and my privacy and my air pocket and my hidden smile and my closet and my job and my bad breath bubble and your comfort and your law and your alienation and your yard sign on my face and my gag on your hallelujah and pollution control and my pretend  mouth with unicorns and rainbows to take me back to fairytale I mean virtual school and your bandit bandana  to swear at political opponents and my ninja black that shows no dirt mask  You don’t need to wear this white attack covering I mean protest made from bedsheets that shows red lipstick and it’s the economy stupid and it’s the flattering flattening curve of my mask against my face so you can’t see my vote and I sleep with this on because only Jesus can touch this face for real after we shave off his beard for him and make him come clean, but still I will see his eyes above his mask like Peter  when the rooster crowed and he realized he left the house without a mask.