Death, standing in his all-white
parlour, drops his last mask.
Hundreds, thousands of false
faces litter the floor.

He would like to say, “Enough!”
and walk out with his real face.
But there are manners to consider
and the delicacy of the human race.
He never likes taking them by surprise.

When my young mother saw his shadow
cross the room, I lay in the incubator,
six months, three weeks old, a tiny mind
with a will to leave. She called on heaven
for an extended reprieve.

Thirty years late, I pull on
the edges of my fate, stretching it
tight at the hairline, behind the ears
and under the chin.

“Oh, it’s you,” I say to the mirror, finding him.

Montage Vol. 10 • December 2006


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