Issue Thirty-Two - Summer 2018

The Man in the Costume

By Michael H. Sato

In your final days you entered the stage in a body
Near skeletal, with skin the feel of parchment ready
To tear, with that smell of sullen sweetness—was it
Cheap perfume from the last user who took that prop
As his own to exit from what he called his life?
Perhaps he used the mask as well, the one you chose
With liver spots and sunken cheeks and gaping
Mouth and the look—was it surrender or resignation?
So there you were in costume and sometimes when
Your eyes were closed we’d forget you were there;
Sometimes even with your eyes wide open
We’d look at your costume and wonder where you’d gone,
Whether you were ever planning to come back;
And sometimes even you couldn’t hide behind
That mask you’d chosen and you showed us you were
There, inside that costume, behind that mask, you were
There and we could say whatever we wanted
For how long we did not know but we waited
To the end for as long as it took for you to exit.

Copyright Sato 2018