Eye Holes Of The Mask by Sanya Hussin

7th February 1997 at 00:00

The air is clear and blue to them, But I can taste the pollution Like a drop of poison in a glass.

I can feel the rain on my fingers Like a needle gently killing a pin cushion.

I can see the traffic going by, creating a Black, dark, fearful figure of death in a mellow field.

I can hear the song of the rain.

Weeping at the disease in its body.

Rain drops are what they hear, but there is Much more than a cover to a book They can smell spring, but I can smell The future pain in my lungs, Squeezing and squeezing and squeezing My windpipes, making my oxygen panic with fear.

They think a rainbow can make it all better.

They think the sun can heal all the wounds.

They think the smiling lie can make it disappear.

As the mask grows stronger and stronger, Making them blind.


This remarkable, disquieting poem defies paraphrase. Its litany of sensations, gathering an urgent, pained momentum, conveys a strong sense of vulnerability, fear and entrapment. What is seen, felt and heard merges into a vivid impression of threat, both external and internal. I'm particularly impressed by the last five lines, the authority with which "they" are gathered, recognised and dismissed, and the ambiguous nature of the mask which seems at the same time to be protective, isolating and dangerous. Sanya Hussein, (14), receives Back By Midnight by John Mole (Puffin). Submitted by Cathy Davies of King Fahad Academy, Ealing, London, who receives the Poetry Society's teachers' newsletter. For Poetry Society events,ring 0171 240 2133

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today