There Was A Maskmaker I Called Corazoncito
…before COVID he carved beaked masks – apropos of nothing,
or to warn what we humans step on and ruin –
for plague doctors to ward off the Black Death.
He rammed herbs into the beak:
plantain, even garlands of parsley.
He buried one of his masks in the garden
to make brusque its texture – and spread the rumour it'd been stolen.
He made a fortune, housewives all gingerly chipping in.
He carved a Picasso bug onto a mask
for its shielded back and markings.
Some eye-candy during the plague, a Zulu Hud Bug.
The face of the mask had to be opaque
to allow vision. To baby-glove what you see.
"Don't lose your cheek", he pretend-warned
the ravenous ladies in the queue.
From him, they would've bought a rotten cucumber.
A mask is always in, sells well.
Now a uniform, but we were not aware of it then.
Don't reveal anything but the anger.
Save your rituals for home and hinder recognition.
Peep through the eye slits so you can witness,
should there remain somebody to ask.
Protect your face against bricks, falling.
Your shield should make you look fiercer
than the other guy.
Filter what comes.
Don't imagine the worst.
Become your mask.
Agnes Marton is a Hungarian-born poet, writer, librettist, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (UK) and Reviews Editor at The Ofi Press. Recent publications include her collection Captain Fly's Bucket List and four chapbooks with Moria Books (USA). She won the National Poetry Day Competition in the UK.