Each morning,
while still shrouded in steamy fog
from the shower,
I stand before
my armory of clothes
and dress.
And just at the last,
before leaving home,
I slip on a mask.
The sturdy one
with the perpetual smile.
The bubbly one
which laughs easily,
seemingly genuine in cheer.
Never mind the Darkness.
The Fear.
The faces. The tears.
The mask is thick enough
to muffle the screams.
The memories of soldiers and innocents.
The smells of feces and medicines.
I wriggle
against the cold, colander’d steel,
still-wet face withering
against the contact.
But, the battle ends
in seconds,
the now familiar contours
molding intimately.
With a deep breath,
I open the front door
and step outside,
the sun’s rays
cutting a swath
across my smile.
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