Masks (a poem)

When I lived in Japan, I found a lot of things were easier to do. In part, that was because there are often well-defined structures in place. The language also helped. Although I was never as proficient at it as I wanted to be, it provided a convenient mask that enabled me to feel safer in some situations, thereby enabling me to be more myself than I would have otherwise. This came to mind this morning as I watched an episode of a Japanese drama while enjoying my morning cup of coffee…

I miss the mask I used to wear
it wasn’t always a comfortable fit
but I could sometimes speak my mind

Everyone else’s masks were well lived in
either I couldn’t see past them
or I couldn’t get through

So I traded my ill-fitting mask
for the one I’d been used to
its comfort never in question

That mask has grown thicker and more opaque
hiding more and more each day
What it conceals I can’t reveal

I haven’t been able to destroy it yet
but cracks have begun to form
I can see slivers of light coming through

I hope some day for the mask to fall away
not so much a reveal, but an emergence
from years of exile

(20 July 2015)