Masque: Poems

Elena Karina Byrne

Each of Byrne’s poems begins with an epigraph, from sources as diverse as Sylvia Plath, Oscar Wilde and the Bible. These help direct readers as Byrne seeks to mine the heavy ore of identity and cart it out on the masks we wear at different times. Perhaps most intriguing is the close relationship of the body to the self; no Cartesian dichotomies for her. For example, “Invisible Blessing Mask: Night,” with its invocation of marriage as a means of addressing the desire to differentiate one’s self from the beloved while at the same time abandoning our identity in union: “It has dissolved on the skin / where you’d rather not / say the words for conjugation, / separate the verb from the tense / nor ever harness what happened to you / when night put the lights out / on the tongue.”