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Meditation On My Skull Morton Marcus

My smiling face is a mask that covers an expressionless skull. The mask can be pushed and pulled this way and that into sneers and grins, grimaces and glares. But the skull beneath exhibits neither moods nor remembrances. It is there, an object, a porcelain bowl. My life goes on around it—the tasting and seeing, dreaming and thinking—as sunlight sweeps over my cheeks and forehead. The blunt bone below is a wall that separates outside from inside yet grows as I do, and remains after I am gone, with its gritted teeth and empty eyeholes. Is it alive, guiding my reactions with an inner purpose I will never understand? Does it wait for my nose to break off like a teacup handle and my ears to turn into mush like fallen apricots left to rot in an orchard? Does it long for my emotions and contemplations to depart like smoke on the wind? I sometimes think it is there as a reminder that in the end I am nothing and no one, unrecognizable without the mask—a ball sitting on my neck like a top-heavy question mark.