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That cute little wig she wore
wasn't hers, nor that powder
on her face changing its pallor:
that stamp that made her her own

But the voice was real
and for now, until she'd grown a little
more, that was enough.

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Maybe this wasn't the sort of debut
she'd had in mind
but that was fine for now:

She wanted to sing
after all, and whether by her name or not
she sung
upon that stage
in front of fans.

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The masked marauder is old-fashioned now;
they’re forward, they’re brave,
they won’t get their head loped off
by a sneaky boot knife

But knives are words and images
and more words: people, in person,
the media, the numbers on charts
of sales and popularity

So maybe she needs that mask
after all.

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They go stale after a bit:
bread left on the bench,
singers past their prime –

Either that, or they’re swallowed up
by fame, by the gravity
of those gazes,
those words,
those eyes…
and the judgement
they house inside…

It’s either crumble into crumbs
or go old and stale…

Either way, it’s a world
they wind up leaving
young.

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She can feel his eyes on her,
looking,
searching,
searching for her…

But do you even know
what you’re looking for?

There’s the androgynous idol
with the deep voice and short hair
and curves hidden under flowing
loose-fitting clothes

And there’s the girl from school
in the short skirt and the ponytail
and the opera voice, cute but strained,
keeping the bird in the cage…

What’s behind
the bird’s cage?

And can you even see
the cage?

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A pretty little girl like her
wasn’t going to break
the field: she had to be
bright and burning
and untouchable
like the sun, and distant
and ethereal
like the moon.

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It’s not an easy road
to fame; she knows
but it’s too smooth now,
a sprint on the beach
in thongs where they
could fly off any moment
except they don’t
and just leave footprints
in the sand behind…

It’s not an easy road
and she can slip at any moment,
she knows. She can trip
on rocks or seaweed or shells
or a foaming wave could come
and knock her off her feet

And if they’re not behind her,
or if they are, they’re still
in front, and she has to tread carefully
even now.

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She can’t wear the mask forever.
She can’t stay at school forever.

Which one will win, in the end,
she wonders? The life she already leads
or the one she’s working towards

Or will they tangle and tear
and she’ll be left with neither,
a demolished past, a torn future
she can’t put back together…

But time won’t stay unchanged
forever.

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It’ll crumble: her mask, her other self
and she always knew it would.
She’d outgrow it
or she’d toss it out in the summer’s
heat, unable to bare its stifling
any more…

Or someone would come along with a
sledgehammer and smash it
into bits.

It’ll crumble, one day,
so she has to make sure
her make-up’s ready
when it’s done.

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Maybe she shouldn’t have agreed to hide
in the end, but she has
and now the doll skin’s stuck
on her face.

It’s a mask, but she can’t get it off.
Plastic surgery: it’s changed her
and it’ll leave scars
once it’s inevitably ripped off.

But it’s a hard road, no matter the path
and she knows that; she’ll deal
and the scars will be her struggle
and her adulthood

When the mask that hides the child
is ripped away.