We never knew or understood

what was behind the mask,

There was the mask she presented

to the public,

the face she presented to the minister

of our church,

the softly spoken, gently smiling mask,

for those she wished to impress;

There was the mask of the woman,

cajoling, wheedling, persuasive,

to get what she wanted from our father,

who never, I think,  ever saw behind the mask.

There was her public persona mask

for the neighbors and our teachers

and the store keepers,

an impersonal mask — but she had an innate way

of letting them know – do not get too close,

do not disagree with me or

cause me any grief –

because as sure as God made little green apples,

you will rue the day

you ever came into conflict with me.

They never did.

We, however, were a different ball of wax.

Once inside the house, away from public view,

She took off her mask

and lashed out at us,

brutal and ruthless;

Her rage was beyond our comprehension;

We only knew to hide from her,

From her anger, to hope and pray

we could survive.

We did not know or understand

what was behind the mask,

But we recognized evil when we saw it

staring us in the face.

We cowered in fear and

waited for our father to come home from work.


Sandra Lee Smith

Originally posted October 28, 2009

Updated October 7, 2018


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