Order for Masks by VIRGINIA MORENO


Virginia Moreno



To this harlequinade

I wear black tight and fool’s cap

Billiken*, make me three bright masks

For the three tasks in my life.

Three faces to wear

One after the other

For the three men in my life.



When my Brother comes

make me one opposite

If he is a devil, a saint

With a staff to his fork

And for his horns, a crown.

I hope for my contrast

To make nil

Our old resemblance to each other

and my twin will walk me out

Without a frown

Pretending I am another.



When my Father comes

Make me one so like

His child once eating his white bread in trance

Philomela* before she was raped. I hope by likeness

To make him believe this is the same kind

The chaste face he made,

And my blind Lear* will walk me out

Without a word

Fearing to peer behind.



If my lover comes,

Yes, when Seducer comes

Make for me the face

That will in color race

The carnival stars

And change in shape

Under his grasping hands.

Make it bloody

When he needs it white

Make it wicked in the dark

Let him find no old mark

Make it stone to his suave touch

This magician will walk me out

Newly loved.

Not knowing why my tantalizing face

Is strangely like the mangled parts of a face

He once wiped out.



Make me three masks.




Notable Allusions:


Billiken– a charm doll with a pointed ears and mischievous smile.

Philomela– According to Greek Mythology, Philomela was a daughter of King Pandion I of Athens and a sister of Procne. In the story, King Tereus of Thrace (husband of Procne) raped Philomela and cut out her tongue.

King Lear– A tragedy by William Shakespeare.

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