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One night a poem came up to a poet.
From now on, it said, you must wear a mask.
What kind of mask? asked the poet.
A rose mask, said the poem.
I've used it already, said the poet,
I've exhausted it.
Then wear the mask that's made
Out of the nightingale's song, use that mask.
But it's an old mask, said the poet,
it's all used up.
Nonsense, said the poem, it's the perfect mask,
Nevertheless, try on the god mask,
That mask illuminates heaven.
It's a tired mask, said the poet,
And the stars crawl about in it like ants.
Then try on the troubadour’s mask,
Or the singer's mask,
Try on all the popular masks.
I have, said the poet, but they fit too easily.
Now the poem was getting impatient,
it stamped its foot like a child,
it screamed, Then try on your own face,
Try on the one mask that terrifies you,
The mask only you could possibly use,
The mask only you can wear out.
The poet tore at his face till it bled,
This mask? he asked, this mask?
Yes, said the poem, why not?
But he was tired of masks,
He had lived too long with them.
He snatched at the poem and stuck to his face.
He chewed on it, spat bits out, destroyed it.
Its screams were muffled, it wept, it tried to be lyrical,
It wriggled into his eyes and mouth,
Into his blood it wriggled.
The next day his friends did not recognise him,
They were afraid of him.
Now it's the right mask, said the poem, the right mask.
It clung to him lovingly, and never let go again.

National Poetry Day

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mirella

October 2012

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