The Poetry of Ellin Anderson

THE MAPLE MASK

Ellin Anderson

I said, "I'd like a mask to wear."

Grandmother said, "I'll make you one."
We walked towards the garden.  There,
The greedy sunset drank the sun

From the white cups of peonies,
Heavy with fragrance, ripe with gold,
Matching the lanterns in the trees,
Spilling the light they couldn't hold.

"Night is falling fast," she said.
"Will it fall on us?" I cried.
A blackbird's music filled her laugh:
"That only means the light has died."

I'd always thought that night-time rose
From wells of violet in the East,
Climbing, as if a silent cloud
Of velvet wings had been released.

And now, they filled the maple trees
That framed us in their green expanse,
A canopy of summer leaves
That seemed to whisper, tremble, dance.

She lifted up her graceful hand
Where rows of little diamonds shone;
The drifting bands of fireflies
Wore little diamonds of their own.

She lifted up her graceful hand
And plucked a leaf. The limb snapped back.
Grandmother turned and touched me with
My jagged mask, silver and black

As painted by the silver night.
"A maple tree's a glorious thing,"
She said.  "A canvas in the Fall,
And store of sweetness in the Spring."

Grandmother made two holes for eyes,
And tore a hollow mouth and nose,
And held the leaf across her face.
A drowsy symphony of crows

Whirled up when I wailed at the sight
Of Grandma with the face of Death!
Laughing, she let me run away,
Chased me, until I stopped for breath,

Caught me, and held me to her heart
And carried me towards the glow
Of lamplit windows, and the swell
Of gentle voices, soft and low.

I think about the maple mask
Whenever still-of-evening calls,
And wonder if I'll ever know
Whether night rises, or it falls.
 

2008 by Ellin Anderson. All rights reserved.
No part of this work may be copied or used in any way
without written permission from the author.

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Bloodroot
Dream
Young Barret O'Bara
Seabrook
Tiger and Blue Jewel

Winter's Hill
Maple-Key Song
November in Camelot

Wassail Song
Veleda
Cinderella
The Rooster at Midsummer
Liberty Enlightens the People

The Leap
The Goldfinch
Three Bears
Song of the Lily
White Tree at Twilight
The Christmas Tree

Song-Sparrow
Grand Bois du Nord
The Owl
Moth Summer
Verticordia
The Little God of Joy
Pear-Petals
Photographing the Moon
A Rabbit
Rose, Do You Know
The Two Pining Bachelors
Lorelei
Persephone

Avalon
The Harvest Chorus
Ghost Cardinal

The Little Heath-Rose
Found
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Song for the Harp

The Spinner
 
The Prayer of Cephalus
Circe and Ulysses
The Black Arts
Tristan and Isolde & Jupiter's Two Casks
Nectanebus

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More Poems by Ellin Anderson

The Little Mermaid
Vermeer
Anne's Hearth