Mask by Lew Watts


Exactly like the first time I flew:
sitting beside a baby and its mother,
the voice so sickly sweet “… should the plane suffer
a sudden drop in pressure you should do
the same as shown by members of the crew.
Make sure your mouth and nose are fully covered,
then tighten the straps before you help another”
. . . . . . . .even if your child is turning blue.

I used to think I’d never pull the mask
to my face first, that this could finally earn
my father’s touch, that while I choked and shuddered
a better life would live. Until I asked
why you had left and you said I must learn
to love myself before I could love another.

by Lew Watts

Editor’s Note: Once again we see how enjambment works with this sonnet. The meter isn’t completely uniform, but that’s okay—it avoids the sing-song rhythm that can lull a reader into a lack of comprehension. Lines 4-5 firmly establish iambic pentameter and ground the poem within its structure.

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