Serenity Belton, 'Mask'

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A young Black woman in glasses and braids
Serenity Belton. (Courtesy Serenity Belton)

Editor's Note: Welcome to National Poetry Month. Twice each week in April, KQED Arts & Culture will present a poem by a Bay Area poet. This series is curated by Rightnowish host Pendarvis Harshaw, who also speaks with each poet about their work.

'Mask' by Serenity Belton

Behind a mask...

Behind a mask lies emotionless eyes..

behind a mask lies a broken heart.. 

behind a mask lies a me that's falling apart...

behind a mask lies a true me that i don't show...

a me that I'd rather not expose..

behind a mask is a scared me..

one that wants to cry, maybe even a whole sea...

behind a mask I tell myself I'm fine...

Behind a mask is not a smile..behind a mask is a me that wants to open up..

but gets consumed by the fears..which stops me from seeing what's clear.. 

behind a mask lies a different sere..one that i'm scared of you to see..

so day after day..I put on a mask before you can ask...

Sometimes I feel like I'm walking on glass...

The pain I feel everywhere...

Sometimes I just can't bare...

I smile and pretend... 

because I'm not used to this painful pair of skin..

behind a mask..is a whole other story..one that im not ready to share...

behind a mask...is a frown...

one that I'm not sure how to turn upside down..

Each day, I hide behind a mask before you can even ask.

Serenity Belton wears glasses and a cloth mask over her nose and face while taking a selfie.
Serenity Belton. (Courtesy Serenity Belton)

Pendarvis Harshaw: What inspired this poem?

Serenity Belton: What inspired this poem was mainly my feelings, and wanting to express them. At that time I was heavily struggling with depression and opening up, I didn't know what to do, and writing came to mind. So I ended up writing.

How has your poetry been received? What do people say when they hear or read your work?

To be honest, I'm not sure, since I haven't shared my poems with others before. This is the first time letting one of my poems be out for others to see. At first I was afraid of hearing what others would say about my poems, but I took a chance this time to let others see my work.

How old are you, and what does it feel like to be part of the Bay Area’s poetry legacy?

I'm 17 years old, and it feels nice to have my poem be a part of the Bay Area's poetry legacy. It feels like my poem has been acknowledged, as well as my feelings—since that poem held my feelings within it.