I must first recognize this mask
if it is to be removed,
each slowly-applied layer from
soccer practice drills, school dances,
Lost crushes, my best friend from elementary school died—did you know?
Or the boy down the street who lusted so
gleefully my tiny body,
or the knives I hid in the drawer of my father’s room—where we shared a bunk—
each coat must be gently removed,
not with the blunt edge of a scissor, or
harsh words from forgotten friends
I first must recognize this mask—
these horrible disfigured defenses.