Mitchell mask copy
About Face
by Neil David Mitchell

One small step from subterfuge,
Bluff, facade, masquerade,
From the cheating of time
We wake.

We made-believe,
Covered flaking ruins,
Touched up these perishing temples,
To walk on stage.

A ritual we did not believe:
A sacrifice of self-deceit,
To our generational lines.

Like children of the Blitz,
Anderson shelters fastened round our ears,
We rush below the surface,
Make one giant leap to preservation,
Our fears stuffed in our shrouds,
But free our hidden faces,
Accept our inner Vader,
Unleash straggly, silver hair,
Take our time to breathe,
And let inner beauty

As we dam up our saliva,
Barricade the flotsam of our words,
Moderate the deluge of our tongues,
Shawl our atomic self-critic minds.
May our masks
Mediate for our neighbors,
And free us
To recognize ourselves,
In the veils we wear,
That we are one.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: For this poem, I was considering how the motivation to wear a physical mask is actually one of kindness and love for your neighbor, whereas the more figurative masks we are used to wearing come from much more of a place of self-interest. We try to present our best faces to the world in order to somehow create a better impression, get ahead, feel more value. Ironically, it seems to me, the wearing of a face mask unifies us in our shared humanity and removes some of this self-interest we are often forced by society to adopt.

Mitchell copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Neil David Mitchell, from Glasgow, Scotland, writes poetry, prose, and music, as well as balances the challenging and wonderful roles of being a high  school English teacher, a husband, and a father. (Not necessarily ranked in order of importance!) He has had his poetry published in the dVerse Anthology (Voices of Contemporary World Poetry), and in the Blue Heron Review, and recently published his first collection of poems Seasonal Lines. His further adventures can be followed on Twitter @ndsnigh or at