In a Time of Hidden Faces by Carol A. Stephen (WEARING A MASK Series)

My poem for the Wearing a Mask series on Silver Birch Press.

Silver Birch Press

StephenIn a Time of Hidden Faces
by Carol A. Stephen

This face, my mask of age, slips south
into my neck, wrinkles drawn down by time
and gravity into folds, creases, wattle.
Still, when youth shines forth in my smile, wrinkles
tighten. Years slip away. Or they did—

Now, a different mask, a swath of black cloth
covers dimples, highlights the slight droop
of lower eyelid under my glasses.

Over my shoulder, masks of the past
stare blank-eyed from the wall, and I remember
those days in Venice, that long-ago night in Rome,
the sweetness of a kiss by the Trevi fountain.

Those kissed lips hide now under my new mask, worn
for your safety. I cannot offer you a grin, but
I offer the people of my world my respect,
expressed by this black band across my face.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: As we all consider social distancing, and…

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What-or-Who? by Carol A. Stephen (MY FRONT DOOR Series)

My poem What-or-Who? in the Silver Birch Press series My Front Door, appears today on their site. Thank you, Silver Birch Press!

Silver Birch Press

by Carol A. Stephen

A simple knock at the front door
in a tempo of anybody-home?
segues to an urgency of fist
against steel, a tremor of glass,
an I-know-you’re-in-there! pounding.

I stop halfway down the stairs, curiosity
elbowed away by fear of what-I’ll-find
when I turn the handle, release the lock—
I tiptoe over tiles, slide slowly into
the windowed room beside the door,
turn louvered blinds to crack daylight:
what-or-who is hammering outside?

I see only a cast shadow, someone standing
too close to the door to be seen.
A long-dead-grandmother voice whispers
Never open the door to strangers.

 I tremble behind concealing blinds
in a sweat of what-comes-next
remembering the family rules:

Don’t ever trust other women.
Pretend that you’re not home, and—sssshhh!
Never tell your mother grandma’s secrets.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: What-or-Who? was inspired by a childhood memory of my grandmother, who…

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Poem for Lesley


A friend who has been ill posted a wonderfully inspiring piece on her blog awhile ago. She’s always such a cheerful, positive person, someone I admire very much, and have for a long time.  In re-reading my comments to her about how her thoughts had given me a more positive outlook on life, I realized there was a poem. So, here, for Lesley:


Poem for Lesley


Just last week I had turned silent—

a year of illness— yet this morning

you still arrive in my inbox,

focused always on the positive

swing, the uplift, the sweetness

that there is, rather than what might have been.

You are still your upbeat self in the face of illness.


I wish I had had your insight

to realize all winter that all was not lost,

that I was not just waiting

for the next shoe, that I was, in my own way

grieving the narrowing scope of my own life.


But, as you say, I am alive.

And today I find again appreciation

for your wise words.


~ Carol A. Stephen
March 29, 2020


You can see Lesley’s post here:

My Front Door Poetry & Prose Series — Silver Birch Press


Silver Birch Press is returning, with this submission call. Check it out!

Now that we’re all isolated because of the current world crisis, more than ever we need to maintain a connection. It seems like a perfect time to revive the Silver Birch Press blog — with a new call for submissions to all our friends around the world. Since our front doors keep us separated from […]

via My Front Door Poetry & Prose Series — Silver Birch Press