mask-1970 taro okamoto
Masked Layers
by d.r. sanchez

I was given some I cannot wear
Homemade and bought
Their fabric tight against my face
Too tight I discovered
When claustrophobia turned to panic
Large bones
Large feet
Large face
Big head
Even with a larger mask that fits
I must force my breath to slow
To push the anxiety deep
Behind the mask I must
Are the ones I need
Beneath the surface
Projecting the pseudo me
Protecting the fragile me

IMAGE: “Mask” by Taro Okamoto (1970).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Recent weeks of (undiagnosed) illness have made stay-at-home mandates easy to follow. When I could at last leave home for short trips, I found that I’m much happier when I go nowhere, at least for now. Physical masks – that fit or that do not – are not easy for me. The invisible ones are vital and easier to wear than to bare.

drsanchez writer-profile

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Debra Sanchez is an award-winning bilingual author. She has moved over 30 times and has lived in five states in two countries…so far. She leads and attends various writing groups in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, area, and also hosts writing retreats. Four of her books have earned awards from The Author Zone (2017, 2018, 2020), and her other writing has won awards at writers’ conferences in various genres, including children’s stories, poetry, fantasy, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Several of her plays and monologues have been produced and published. Other works have been published in literary magazines, newspapers, and anthologies. Visit for more details, visit her Amazon author page, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.