The Mask’s Weight

by Amanda Anastasi

It is not the mask that restricts you.
This thin covering of cloth

may slightly dampen the tenor
and reverberation of your voice

and cloak the creases around
your smiling or pursed mouth

and leave just your eyes to say it all.
It is reminding you of the ever

present gag you nod yes to daily
and weave your life through

and around; that invisible hand 
upon your mouth, propped up

and fixed in place by your own.
There are ample spaces between

for self-expression, making
the window bars more tolerable

and almost appear as though
they are not actually there.

You must realise now
and perhaps you always have

that a bird can remain in its cage
when the door has been left

open for hours. You are
and always have been free.

Amanda Anastasi is an Australian poet living in Melbourne who has been published in journals both locally and internationally, from the Australian Poetry Anthology to The Massachusetts Review. Her debut poetry collection is 2012 and other poems and she is also the co-author of The Silences with Robbie Coburn (Eaglemont Press, 2016). Amanda is a two-time winner of the Ada Cambridge Poetry Prize and recipient of a 2018 Wheeler Centre Hot Desk Fellowship. She is currently Poet in Residence at the Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub until 2022, where she is writing poetry to raise awareness on ecological issues and the climate crisis. Ralph Almeida is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and creates in Brooklyn, NY.