Elizabeth M. Castillo
I hate papier mâché the stodge, the sticky remains of the glue the way it gets everywhere, and is always far more effort than whatever activity I promised we’d do. I see through its thickness once the mask is shaped and set, and decorated in all bright, appropriate colours, though the paint might not be dry yet. I’ve seen how they wear it here in Paris, tied with ribbon over rimmed eyes and unrouged lips. Ces masques they look like teachers and nannies, and grannies, and grandpas, and playgroups. Surrogates, par dizaine. Beneath the flour and paper there’s so much that mustn’t be seen. I made my own when you weren’t looking. Stole a handful of the blasted gunk. Smeared my empty face, made an imprint. Then back to our crafts- what fun! I will not let you see the sadness, I promise I will not let it peek through this, I will make this mask into a full-body suit, full-body armour, to protect you both from all this mess. Until you’re older, and even then. Little hearts, little hands. Ill-equipped to carry such burdens. Just dextrous enough for papier mâché.
Elizabeth M. Castillo is a British-Mauritian poet, writer, and language teacher. She lives in Paris with her family and two cats. When not writing poetry, she can be found working on her podcast or webcomic, pottering about her garden, or writing a variety of different things under a variety of pen names. She has words in, or upcoming in, Selcouth Station Press, Pollux Journal, Revista Purgante, Fevers of the Mind Press, and Melbourne Culture Corner, Epoch Press, among others.