Bird Mask Girl

Bird Mask Girl

She only feels like drawing bird mask girls
lately, knowing more about beaks
than wings,
only what really is at issue is
the mouth.

The bird mask girls don’t have one,
the mask a closed construct
except for the slits the girls’ lashes
flutter against.

Why do we do what we do?

The bird mask girls wear
puffed sleeves.
These are arguably shaped like cumulous clouds
but are small and tethered to what is drawn
as clothes.

She is not conscious in this culture of ever wearing a bird mask.
It seems to her that the one she has perfected has a smile
and teeth that manage to look fairly white
against the lipstick, lipstick not at all like the sticks
birds perch upon
in air or sky, even barred sky.

The strings that hold the masks in place
are tied with bows
in the back.

 

***************************

For Magaly Guerero’s prompt on Real Toads to write a poem based on one’s own prior work.  I am slightly varying the prompt to write the poem about one of my past drawings (instead of an old poem) although I have also been about an old poem about posturing.

 

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12 Comments on “Bird Mask Girl”


  1. There is an eeriness and discomfort that makes the poem so sad…

  2. Jae Rose Says:

    What a powerful poem..so much to take from here..well done

  3. kim881 Says:

    I love your approach to the challenge and the poem speaks to me from behind its bird mask.

  4. Brendan Says:

    It’s a great conundrum — why beak but no mouth? Like the mermaid question, how do you make love to a mermaid if her legs fuse into a tail? Masks here are for mysteries, the pregnant unsaid or unsayable. I get a girl, abandoned or lost, or the Philomena whose tongue was cut out to keep her from confessing someone else’s outrage against her. Even if her poise is perfect(ed), the eyes say it all–we aren’t allowed them here, which means silence of surface is the point. Well done –


  5. ‘It seems to her that the one she has perfected has a smile and teeth that manage to look fairly white against the lipstick, lipstick not at all like the sticks birds perch upon in air or sky, even barred sky’ .. this is so powerful!

  6. Kerry Says:

    Something about the phrase ‘bird mask girl’ in the context of the poem as a whole, just blows me away… The viewpoint, lashes on the inside of the mask, the hidden lipstick, the juxtaposition with the clouds..well, it is all amazingly well done to me.


  7. “She is not conscious in this culture of ever wearing a bird mask.
    It seems to her that the one she has perfected has a smile” sometimes a mask is safer and esp., if it comes with a untieable bow


  8. “…knowing more about beaks than wings….” How I love that! This is one of my new favourites of yours, Karin. It really speaks to me – the sleeves like clouds, the lashes trained to bat and flutter……..wonderfully done.

  9. Jim Says:

    Depending on age, I’d say this girl is a little far out. You did well in depicting her drawing problems. Easiest is the knot in the back, assume the mask is tied on.
    Now in the picture of yours, it looks like she’s partially covering that illusive mouth. Best watch things, she may never develop any farther in her art work. As in my case, I’m stuck at the “stick man” stage. Even regressing a bit, I used to draw stick horses, now I cannot.
    ..


  10. I wonder why the mask? But then I know all of us own some sort of mask. We try and hide vulnerable as often as we can.


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