Diagnosis [series of dreams 2]

When somebody’s wearing a mask, he’s gonna tell you the truth.
When he’s not wearing a mask, it’s highly unlikely.

Strike through the mask.


Diagnosis [Series of dreams 2]

For years I tried on my father’s face but it never fit.
I did not know how many faces I had left when the word

Found its way through the eye holes
And I saw the future blink back

As if it were the one surprised, as if
It were anything more than the grit of time

In a tear. My mother had vision, my dad had clarity
Like a pair of glasses you forget is there

Because to see the thing that made it clear
You’d have to give back what felt like yours

All along. Seven years after she left
The surface of the world my mother died,

The one who’d told me the only time she saw
Her husband cry was when his father lay

Caved in by cancer, his last breath as much
A mystery to the five year old me as the giant sycamore tree

In our front yard, so big I could never see
It all at once, no matter how far away I got.

No one would see it complete in my eyes. My dying father’s face
Looks at me in the mirror, giving away nothing.

When I go see him this last time before
His brittle blood flags I know he’ll show me

Nothing different. I’ll ask him about mom and
When he pauses not looking I’ll switch faces and he’ll

Never know what I gave him, this quiet gratitude,
This empty mask I’ve been preparing for years.



mask by Stephen Schwaner

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