Grief in the Darkroom By Tyler King

Grief in the Darkroom

I glue the golden mask to my face
and in ten thousand years we all might
be reborn again. I glue this wooden mask
to my skin so that when that day comes,
you will know me. I glue this stone mask to
my lips and eyes and nose because
without it I will suffocate. Breathe deep,
breathe in, swim up to the light.

All my life, we’ve worn masks
and danced in this ballroom
and now your feet don’t move
and the music’s all quiet
and I know you’d say,
“Keep dancing,”
but it’s hard.
Sunlight like molasses threaded through
and you reached up your fingers
and sewed together a tapestry and its edges are fraying
and I know you’d say,
“Tie up my loose ends,”
but it’s hard.
Don’t you fall, we’ve lived together all these years
and seen men scrape clouds
and sow fields of sweet rice
and now, they’re all ghost fire
and I know you would say,
“Go to them,”
but it’s hard.

I glue the two-sided mask to my face
and in a year, I’ll understand that we might
be redeemed again. I glue the steel mask
to my frame and lean on its willowed
support. I glue this glass mask to my
eyes so I can’t tear up — tearing into it
teases out shards — but at least I see
clear and am transparent.

and I know you would say:
take off the masks,
and let all it flow free
so then I’ll know
I taught you well.
But it’s hard

By Tyler King


Tyler King (b. 2003) is a writer, songwriter, and composer. His work in poetry and prose has been recognized multiple times by the National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. In addition to writing poetry and fiction reflecting mainly on his Asian-American heritage and the impacts of contemporary masculinity on youth, Tyler co-directs Imagination, his school’s literary journal. There, he focuses on curating new content and helping student-writers develop their unique styles and voices. Tyler attends St. John’s School and resides in Houston, TX.

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