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He was twelve when he first realized he could remove his face;
set it calmly aside
reattach it at will.
Shocked he hadn’t noticed it earlier,
hadn’t felt the small, sturdy latches just behind his ears
Hands trembled
fumbled the first latch,
pressed it forward,
met its spring-loaded resistance

paused

overcame the tension
released into ecstasy that joy of perfect anonymity.

For years he would only remove his face when he was alone
in the bathroom
holding that limp flesh in his hands
slack
unresponsive
detached
part of him.
Not.

Much more malleable off the skull than on,
released from the tension of adhering to phrenological cartography.

He was twenty when he learned he could make more of them
read Elliot in an English class,
fell in love,
began his life’s work.
Prepared faces to meet other faces
sometimes braver
sometimes faces that looked at the sun,
burned out their retinas, saw only fireworks
faces that always wept
that smiled
that listened attentively
that offered sage advice

Warehoused them,
carefully labelled,
each honest if not always true,
they piled like snow drifts.
filled closets.
used them as blankets,
covered his feet in the small hours
began to fear opening the door
they started to spill out,
no room left under the rug,
their weight cumulative, inevitable
the barest whisper
inaudible among the faces
each soundlessly asking the question

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