A Mask is Not a Face

by Dominik Parisien

My skinless daughter is sewing
a mask from broad-winged butterflies.
She lures them with lemon peel,
milkweed, goldenrod and sand
rolled in a ball balanced on her tongue;
snaps her mouth shut like a flytrap
when their wings touch her palate;
chuckles as their tongues suck
at air between her teeth
before she does what she does
with them.
Pierced by copper-headed
pins, they cover the table
like newspapers for a papier-mâché collage
(she sometimes dips her fingers
in flour and water
and lets the mixture dry
like skin that cracks when she moves).
I have heard it said  
(poor girl)
that she looks
like half a blood orange
like Mars through a telescope
like the underside of autumn leaves
and roadside carrion.
But when I ask and even when I don't
she lies, says
Don't worry and I'm fine
and keeps sewing that butterfly mask 
(such a pretty thing such a smiling thing)
with its too-bright eyes and its too-wide lips. 
I would tell her
a mask is not a face
it is a lie
when the wings are all sewn
and a lace knot tied behind the ears
she hands me the mask, says
so you'll smile more.

Dominik Parisien prefers reading over sleeping, a useful trait for an insomniac. His poetry has appeared in inkscrawl, Stone Telling and Here, We Cross and is forthcoming in Star*Line and Through the Gate. His favourite fruit is the pomegranate, although the fresh figs he ate while in France still haunt his taste buds to this day.

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