The Unraveling

The mask will unravel in five minutes.
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Right there.
I knew that would get your attention.
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Now wait.
Go slow.
Take it easy.
I’m whiling away time
till the whole sheet thaws and can just slide down.
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You can stay here
and watch the circus when the curtain drops.
You can find who I am then,
or you can slash off the whole thing right now.
Just remember,
I carry a sword too.
And even if you snatch it from me,
I’ve been sharpening my claws.
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Maybe I am Ravana behind the facade.
But no, that would have needed ten masks,
and I have enough trouble with one already.
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Maybe I’m Voldemort.
which would explain the mask.
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Maybe I’m Hercules.
Who am I kidding?
Why would I hide then?
I would be busy
colouring Instagram with selfies,
splashing YouTube with my battles,
and if I had the time,
I’d instruct and entertain
with a Ted talk.
Among other things, I would speak about how I became a hero,
humbly recount the Twelve Labours,
and slip in the anecdote
about an infant me strangling a snake.
If I have the time – Oh, I always have the time for this –
I would even give you a teaser about the Thirteenth Labour.
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Wait. I should have said Narcissus,
but the dude’s too mainstream now.
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Maybe I’m like the night
That ran out of starlight.
Mask or no mask,
it does not matter.
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Maybe my skin will never shed this mask.
Maybe I should paint it better,
learn some moves,
and entertain you with Kathakali.
‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍
Maybe you can see me through the mask
if you position yourself just right
and catch the sunrays glanced off my face
at the right angles.
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If that does not work
I can puncture holes in my mask,
wide enough to let my sin see the light,
and yet stay out of our sight.
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Won’t help you?
I never promised it would.
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Maybe I should run.
Run so quick I work up a sweat
to wipe off this disguise.
Run so far
we won’t need to hide ourselves.
The distance I gain will do the job.
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Or maybe,
I should look you in the eye
and instruct the rain
to come down hard enough
so that the water drops peel our fiercely guarded second skins.
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I don’t know what will happen then.
You may see the equator
grow thicker between our hemispheres.
Some confidence may cross the fence
And shake hands with doubt.
Or it may be the other way around.
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You may see the real me then.
Yeah right.
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And what if my second skin is another masquerade?
What if we all are trees,
Adding one mask over another, every passing year?
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No worries.
I’ll get myself an axe,
and pass you the sword.
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Good luck swinging.

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