The stitches in my father’s mask grew mild
as Shakespeare, Rembrandt, Brahms wove warp and weft.
He waltzed on satin feet like music’s child
and warmed his blood on snow-chilled mountain heft.
To best the bile of poverty and stain
his essence, strong as peppermint, broke out
and spiced the air for others, took the strain
but screened his inner life from prying scout.
Disease decayed his mask, contorted time.
A question mark pervades the voided space.
An answer floats where nature’s breezes rhyme
where trunk bark, read as Braille, settles place.
The peace released with whispered final breath
unmasked the light and banished fear of death.
Robyn Sykes is published in journals and anthologies nationally, internationally and online. Nature, human behaviour and a BSc (Hons) inform her work. Recently, her poem ‘Forest Tracks’ appeared in bushfire anthology Messages from the Embers (Black Quill Press 2020). Robyn coordinates A Brush with Poetry in Binalong, near Canberra.
Listen to Robyn reading My father’s mask (1:24)
© 2021 text and audio