Poem Hunter
Lawrence S. Pertillar (February/'47 / Connecticut, USA)


for Danarto

He loves crafting masks. He keeps skinning
his own face over and over again
and hangs them up on the wall. "I would like
to use them in my production," a director says.

Tonight, when the play is performed,
he looks for his own face among
the whispering, shouting, groaning
masks: it's not there. It turns out that he

still has to skin his own face over and over again.


"Where is my mask?" he asks no one
in particular. In the make-up room: broken mirror,
rouge and powder scattered around;
but the mask is not there. "Where

is my mask?" he asks. Low voltage electricity,
cobwebs on the ceiling
and a tranquilizer in his palm. But no
mask. Perhaps the director implies that

the Tyrant has to skin his own face to get the mask.


But the mask has no right to become human;
it has certainly memorized the king's decree
and lived through the commander's last agony. It is familiar with
the spectators' gapes and heartbeats. Oh, my Lord,

never mentioned in the program book,
nor on the payroll—it's just hung on the wall
after the play is done. Even when there are only the two
of them on the empty stage, the director remains indifferent.

The mask has no right to become human.

Translation: Hasif Amini and Sapardi Djoko Damono

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Comments (1)

thank you 4 what has been self-explained. take care.