Carnival, or Mardi Gras,
these homely, hand-made masks
we wear conceal no mystery,
no drama or intrigue.
They are a sign, of course,
sign of our imperiled times,
sign that reveals far more than
it conceals of where we stand,
and walk, and greet, or fail to greet.
While much is lost to view,
the eyes remain, and in their unveiled light
there lies much to be said, and to be seen.
Above all, perhaps, the graceful truth
that beyond all fear we bear
a telling symbol that we care for
one another’s health, care enough,
at least, to tolerate this impeding
of our daily breath, our welcome,
and our laughter.
J. Barrie Shepherd, “De-facing?’ from A Pandemic Portfolio (Sheepfold Press). Copyright © 2020 by J Barrie Shepherd. Used by the poet’s permission.