Each mask hides another,
Veil on tearstained veil.
Each tattered page of my heart,
Inked and stamped and sealed
In the shadows of my mind.
I wrote myself a fantasy,
Bound my heart in steel.
The bleeding aches I turned to scars,
My dreams to sweat and tears.
I formed and chiseled and polished
And pounded out my soul
Until my reflection stared back
Like a heroine of old.
I stood before the tarnished mirror
Of all I ought to be.
A little better than my best,
More caring there.
Let the world crumble at my feet;
My foundation lay within my soul,
Where no hand could touch.
The reflection grew dim,
The masks ached and chafed,
And one by one I let them fall
Until only I stood
The heroine who needed nothing else.
The aches still throbbed and pulsed
From some deeper, darker place.
Fissures spread across my frame,
Across the mirror.
I grasped and clutched the shards
Of who I thought I was.
But the heroine joined the masks,
In choking, blinding ash.
And in the cracking mirror, I saw
A trembling and lonely child
Stained with the dust of dreams.
Not quite as much as I’d always thought,
Less than all I’d tried to build.
All my efforts shattered
In glass about my feet.
I sank into the ruins of my best
As day drifted into dusk.
No safety, no point, no reason to try,
Only wild, chartless wilderness
A shadow where my reflection once stood.
Another crouches in the dust;
His tears reflect my own.
He holds out a hand.
“I can be enough.”
Hope Ann likes to think herself a dragon-riding, griffin-taming founder of worlds and explorer of legends. Using chocolate, she bribes a wide ring of spies, from the realm leapers of Aslaria to the double agents of Elkbend, for their stories. She thrives on frost, steel, and the tears of her readers, which she secretly mixes into iced coffee. Deep in her hobbit hole, her actual life involves staying up too late writing, reading, researching stab wounds, and struggling to remember the difference between effect and affect. Based in Indiana, she is the self-published author of the Legends of Light series. Hope Ann helps other writers as a personal writing coach and the newsletter manager at Story Embers. You can download her free Beauty and the Beast prequel here.