Lost & Found – Gallery of Masks

I made this mask out of sycamore bark and my grandfather’s silver hair. It is the one I wear to all official public functions–banquets, weddings, funerals, hangings. I stole it from his face when he was inside his coffin and no one was watching. With this mask, I always wear a golden pocket watch, and a black wool cloak, lined with cherry silk.

This is the mask I wear for cheap magic tricks, like stealing hearts and bringing back the dead in the shape of ghosts. I made it from the skin of those who trusted me with their deepest secrets. I keep it soft with midnight oil.

This is the first mask I ever made. I stapled it together from odds and ends: black construction paper from my grade five classroom; the skin of a poisonous snake I found at the bottom of a dry creek bed; a Green Lantern comic book; a photograph of my mother laughing beside a gargoyle the year before she died. I painted the mask burnt umber and wore it on the back of my head whenever I walked home after dark, so that all the ghosts would think I was looking their way.

This is the mask I use to write doggerel and fake obituaries. No, those aren’t diamonds decorating it, just bits of a shattered mirror. Wait until I turn off the light, then you can shine this flashlight in my face, and I’ll throw constellations across the ceiling.

For years, I thought I had lost this one. I stole it from a fat Hungarian fortune teller who worked out of the back of a tea shop on Mercer. For fifty cents, she would scatter the bones of lost cats across her table, and tell you when and how you will die. For a dollar more, she would lift up her blouse and show her giant breasts, luminous with scar tissue. In the room upstairs, her daughter played Surabaya Johnny on an out-of-tune piano.

This mask is my particular favourite, the one I wear whenever I leave the house. You may have seen me wearing it at the theatre or the shopping mall. Do you like the blue and green feathers, the upturned lips? Look closely, you just may see your own reflection, tiny and perfect, in the fake glass eyes. Be careful when you try it on, though; the jagged hooks can leave a mark.