Richard Nixon

was long out

of office

by the time

I was born

and yet I

begged every

Halloween

for a mask

of his face.

Alluring—

his face was

to me, my

fingers held

up in peace

signs, although

I didn’t

know what that

really meant.

So I saved

my money—

since my mom

refused my

pleas—and bought

the rubber

likeness of

President

Nixon whom

I never

really knew.

Only that

he was in-

famously

bad. With his

face on mine

stealing my

innocence,

masking my

identi-

ty, I felt

raging shame

of being

R. Nixon.

I couldn’t

take the heat

of the man.

Or rubber.

What relief

to peel his

face off mine

and breathe air

unfiltered

by his mis-

matched nostrils

pretentious-

ly trying

to pass as

the real deal.

How sweet to

realize

that I am

not Richard

and never

will/can be.

 

When I was a little girl, I was intrigued by presidential masks, especially the one of Richard Nixon. This poem is a metaphor of the masks we choose to wear instead of risking being known for who we really are. It is a celebration of God convincing me I don’t need a mask–that I am lovable to him just as I am.

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