UNCLEAN: a poem

If I could carve a word into my arm
I think that it would be the word “UNCLEAN.”
I feel an outcast everywhere I go
and bring a curse on everyone I love.
So if you see me shifting to the sha-
dows of the room, away from everyone,
it’s probably because I am afraid
you’ll realize what I already know.

It doesn’t matter that I’ve never had
the courage to pick up a knife and cut
it on my skin where I know it belongs,
I still can see the letters strange and an-
gular, different from my usual curving script.
The red tipped steel a wet macabre pointer
to that deep truth that I already know.

“UNCLEAN,” it says. You can’t deny it now.
I’ve shown the inner madness that I hide
with dark humor and instagram snapshots
by this obscene display of self-loathing.
UNCLEAN because unloveable. Unwan-
ted too once you see just how sick I am.
This family divider brings disease.
This leper cries her warning with raised arm.
Don’t come too close. UNCLEAN. Back up. UNCLEAN.

But LORD if you are willing you could touch
the wounds that I have carved into my flesh.
This dog beneath the table licking scraps
of food leftover from the feast above,
she longs to lay her head upon your lap.
Master, I kiss your feet; wash them with tears.
It’s you alone, maker of all, who has
the power to heal sickness and kill death.

So kill the death in me, LORD. Give me life.
A second chance. Whisper the words, “I’m wil-
ling. Be thou cleansed,” and touch your nail scarred hands
against my arm. Erase that word UNCLEAN
and write instead your name upon my heart.
Impress my real name into my fore-
head. Lead me. Touch me. Let me feel love’s fin-
gers trace a new word overtop my scars,

FORGIVEN. Let love say it! And I’ll sing
it too. Forever and forever more.

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