Isabelle Pinto

Shielded (sheltered)

We are born unmasked,
No cover, no shield.
Skin fragile, skin unbroken
No weapons to wield

(guardians have shields and weapons of their own)

But scars come so easily
When anyone can see,
So I built my first mask,
Perfect, and clean.

(throwing rocks at a shield hurts naught but the shield)

And if this one was broken
And one was built anew
It was okay,
Masks shield your skin from truth.

(it’s easy, with practice. just a wooden circle with paint)

And heapings of masks,
Each one custom-made,
Perfect daughter, perfect student
A mask for every day

And if I had a thousand faces,
Maybe one would be
Enough for someone, anyone
Whose mask wouldn’t mind me.

(the thing about masks is this:)
If you wear one long enough,
It grows closer to your skin,
Less easy to pull away,
The line between grows thin

(what does the shield protect, then, if no one stands to fight?)

And if I cut it off?
What else would there be?
Flesh? Neglected and rotten behind a mask?
Would anyone wish to see?

(soon it is just a round piece of wood, shivering in the wind)

So the mask stays on,
And grows closer every day.
Until I look in the mirror
And can’t pull it away.

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