EYE HOLES OF THE MASK
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