Poem by Myriam Ghezaïl Ben Brahim
Listen to what I’m not saying, please
Don’t let me fool you.
Don’t let the face I’m wearing fool you,
because I wear a mask, a thousand masks,
masks that I’m afraid to remove,
and I’m none of them.
Pretending is an art that is second nature to me,
but don’t be fooled,
for the love of God, don’t be fooled.
I give you the impression that I’m sure,
that everything is fine and trouble-free with me, both inside and out,
that I am the very trust and that I hover above everything,
that the water is calm and that I am in control
and I don’t need anyone,
but don’t believe me.
On the surface, I am smooth and flawless, but it’s only my mask,
always different and always hidden.
Below that, there is no complacency.
Below that lies confusion, fear and loneliness.
But I hide them. I don’t want anyone to know.
I panic at the thought of my weakness being exposed.
That’s why I frantically create a mask to hide behind,
a nonchalant and sophisticated facade,
to help me pretend,
to protect me from the looks that know.
But that look is precisely my salvation, my only hope,
and I know that.
If it is followed by acceptance,
and if it is followed by love.
It’s the only thing that can free me from myself,
of the prison walls I built myself,
barriers that I have put up with so much effort.
It’s the only thing that can assure me
of what I can’t insure myself,
that I really do have a value.
But I’m not telling you. I don’t dare, I’m afraid to do it.
I’m afraid your look won’t be followed by acceptance,
is not followed by love.
I’m afraid you think less of me,
if you laugh and your laughter would kill me.
I’m afraid, deep down, I’m nothing,
that you see it and reject me.
So I play my game, a desperate game to pretend,
carrying a facade without insurance
and a child trembling inside.
This is how the beautiful, but unreal parade of masks begins,
and my life becomes a front.
I chat with you in a suave way about ephemeral subjects.
I’m telling you everything about nothing,
and nothing of what is everything,
of what’s crying inside me.
So when I go through my script
don’t let this serenade fool you.
Please try to listen carefully and listen to what I’m not telling you,
what I’d like to be able to tell you,
what I need to tell you to survive,
but what I can’t say is.
I don’t like to hide.
I don’t like to play superficial games.
I want to stop playing.
I want to be authentic, spontaneous and myself,
but you have to help me.
You must reach out to me
even if it’s the last thing I seem to want.
You’re the only person who can erase from my eyes
the empty gaze of a living dead man.
You’re the only person who can invite me to life.
Every time you’re kind, gentle and encouraging,
every time you try to understand because you pay attention,
my heart is starting to have wings that grow
very small wings,
very weak wings,
With your power to touch and make me feel,
you can breathe life into me.
I want you to know that.
I want you to know how important you are to me,
how you can be a creator
of the person I am
if you choose it.
Only you can break the wall behind which I tremble,
only you can take off my mask,
only you can free me from my world shaded by panic,
from my lonely prison,
if you choose it.
Please, choose him.
Don’t miss me. Don’t miss me.
It won’t be easy for you.
Several years of believing I’m worthless have built very solid walls.
The closer you get to me
the more I can fight blindly.
It’s irrational, but despite what the books say about man,
I’m often irrational.
I’m fighting precisely the thing I need.
But they say that love is stronger than walls
and that’s where my hope lies.
Please, try to break down the walls
with a firm, but gentle hand,
because a child is very sensitive.
Who am I, you may be wondering?
I’m someone you know very well.
Because I’m every man you meet
and I’m every woman you meet.