The Masks, A Poem

I am fluent in languages
not like English, Français, or Gaeilge.
I mean the social languages
you constructed before
and built during
my time.

There were no classes to teach me
all of the facial expressions, subtext,
and the unspoken assumptions.
I learned by mistakes
and the shunning
that followed.

To survive and be accepted
I refused to give up; I mastered them.
Even though I despised this speech.
Even though I wore them
like a disguise,
like masks.

But I could not sustain it long.
I’d grow tired, frustrated, my light dimmed.
Covers became my hiding place.
My voice did not matter
I kept silent,

For years, I remained in circles,
spinning words that had no meaning for me.
Until I discovered there were
so many others who
were like me but

They refused meaningless constructs
and let me express myself as I am.
Respect and boundaries were kept.
No excuse to be rude.
And I destroyed
my masks.

There are many ways to exist.
Not only as the neurotypicals live.
Some of us diverge from the norm.
We have value ourselves.
We should never
be masked.

The Masks © 2021 Cait Gordon. All rights reserved. No part of this poem may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without permission except in the case of brief quotations in critical articles and reviews. For more information, contact Cait Gordon.

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