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The Mask

by Maria F Rojas, 2024

The Mask

I’m afraid.

All I am is a girl 

who has the world in her hands.

Is that real or a phrase to drain the life from me?

I have pains. 

No one asks them.

They ask for my prettiness in foul moments.

They ask for my gentleness in a rough world. 

They ask for my calmness during a storm.  


I weep after seeing the bloody sight of living,

and what humanity must put up with.

The world is melting 

and it’s fiery hell is burning my soul,

reducing the level of me in my body and

creating an abyss in my thick bones.


Using people’s influences as my band-aid. 

Stepping into the wrong path.

Taking the pill of freedom.

She said it would only inflict ecstasy.

“I thought it would ease my pain.” 

The doctors say, 

I now need a soul cleansing from the euphoria. 

It was deadly fun. 

I’m just a girl with mistakes as her past. 


Setting foot in reality.

I’m back to the routine of 

being under pressure to be a red diamond.


reflecting on what I see and am: 

Seeing the bloody wails of my mother and I 

being made up of a red heart and insides 

stand a chance. 

But I thought diamonds were precious and rare.

I see a future with my coat as dark as my life.

Opaque in its brilliance, not radiating light, and 

afflicting gloom on others.

My friends, too, black in their shine, 

all influenced by the outside.

No longer feeling unique am I?

Coping and pasting.

Still urging to be as red as the sea.


Confused in my thinking: 

Am I made of flesh or standards?

Two opposite wholes I must wear.

Working until midnight, 

fixing my masks in the mirror to pass life standards. 

Seeing much to be erased:

Cleaning up my mistakes, 

picking up my self-esteem, 

adding on a shiny smile, 

pulling out thoughts and

wiping away my fats.

I know perfection is all that defines me. 

But life is a straight line

and I can’t be messing it up with my zig-zag ways.


I heard tales as a child of life as love,

not feeling dead because of it. 

The injustices all go through. I could change them. 

Would life allow me to correct the wrong?

Or would it treat me as an error for pursuing the “impossible?”

I’m a part of a system that plots to kill me.

My purple eye bags show my endurance.


Suppose to

take the screams and frustration of the world,

but it can’t take mine. 

Instead, it silences my cries for a breath 

while drowning in rejections.


The thought of opening my jaw to speak burns my mind. 

Too much work.

I’m not lazy. I’m just putting up with what some say is life. 


Urging to be back in my euphoria when it gets hard:

I want to speed 100 on the highway and feel the privilege of being alive. 

I want to go to the top of the Empire State Building and see how little life is.

I want to climb Everest and understand how valuable oxygen is.

I want to run a marathon and thank my body for being perfect in its mechanism. 

I want to travel the world and see the beauty of my home, which I take for granted. 

But how could I risk it again? 

I should distract myself by 

checking off the strength of my disguise.

I can’t be seen.


If breathing were not natural, 

my exhaustion would have chosen to give it up.