The mask that burns like a violin, the mask

that sings only dead languages, that loves

the destruction of being put on. The mask

that sighs like a woman even though

a woman wears it. The mask beaded with

freshwater pearls, with seeds. The plumed mask,

the mask with a sutured mouth, a moonface,

with a healed gash that means harvest. A glower

that hides wanting. A grotesque pucker. Here’s

a beaked mask, a braided mask, here’s a mask

without eyes, a mask that looks like a mask

but isn’t—please don’t try to unribbon it.

The mask that snows coins, the mask full of wasps.

Lace mask to net escaping thoughts. Pass me

the rouged mask, the one made of sheet music.

Or the jackal mask, the hide-bound mask

that renders lovers identical with night.


Rebecca Lindenberg, “Carnival” from Love, an Index. Copyright © 2012 by Rebecca Lindenberg.