Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Death Mask by Nick Owen

Beyond the mystery of time
Beyond the mystery of space
Beyond the mystery of consciousness
There is a mystery, the final human face.

There is a concept of eternity
That isn’t everlasting life;
for it transcends our time of living
it transcends our time of death;
It goes out beyond the moment
when we take our final breath.

In that one eternal showing
perhaps we capture who we are;
L’inconnue de la seine
becomes majestic shining star.


When do we become a person?
Is a person just a mask?
putting on your face each morning,
just another daily task.

Is there one amazing moment
When we make our final mark
When our face, at last not hiding
Tells the truth, so clear and stark.

The ancients chose to take an imprint
Of that one important final face
Built an effigy upon it
For the dead flesh to replace

Now we visit our museums,
find our mummies and our Gods
gaze on bandaged broken bodies
neath their caskets’ lifted lids
Will they stay with us forever
Egyptian pharaohs,
tiny modern kids?

Once Greeks invaded Egypt
learned how to embalm
and mummify their dead
brought with them their own deep secrets
how to paint a life-like face.
laid it on the mummy’s basket
and replaced
the old style formulaic mask.     

A rare beauty looks up
gazes out through the shadow of her death

wicker basket
coffin casket
death portrait new minted
facing out the end of time
living woman in her prime

Is this vision for a world she left
To tell us of her lovely life time here

Or is it for her inward onward journey
Holding her till Eros wakes from sleep
A promise, in another world, to keep

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