Within the splendid palace dining hall
The air was thick as were the people there.
She wore a sparkling dress with fur-lined shawl,
A diamond-studded pin pressed in her hair.

Her slim gloved-hand received a metal rod,
A black Venetian party mask attached.
She held it to her lovely face unflawed
And walked across with confidence unmatched.

Around were clusters talking, laughing loud.
Cigar smoke rose, a gray and foggy blur.
Palatial nooks filled up with such a crowd;
The heat was strong, so she removed her fur.

Her bare-smooth shoulders caught the light above
From chandeliers, a thousand crystals hung.
The male hearts there were urged by sleeping love
And timeless melodies from ages sung.

A champagne glass in hand, she laughed and danced.
A single touch, a longing look, a gasp,
The dream of being swept away, romanced,
Like wisps of smoke had vanished from her grasp.

Still on she danced, new partners found each hour.
Fortepiano fingers tinkled Bach.
Cascading moonlight breathed quixotic power.
The chiming of a handless ‘father clock.

Then suddenly, the palace left her sight;
The men like phantoms faded to their rest.
Alone she stood out in the empty night,
Confusion and uncertainty possessed.

Until she saw upon the musty ground
The answer to what all her heart did ask,
The darkling truth of revelation found:
The fallen pieces of her party mask.


(Photo from Etsy/ HigginsCreek)