They lied, my friend. They injected
their despair beneath your skin
like a parasitic insect laying eggs
in the body of another species.
Nothing they said is true,
everything about you is honorable. Every pore
that opens and closes—a multitude
along the expanse of your body, the
follicles from which hair sprouts
emerging again and again like spiders’ floss
spun from a limitless source.
You wait, huddled. Or carry yourself from
place to place like a burden. As if
you would stash yourself, if you could,
in a bus station locker, or somewhere smaller.
You don’t really hope, but
you can’t give it up completely.
Some stubborn nugget
is lodged like a bullet in bone.
Though each breath stings with the cold
suck of it, you can know the truth.
Every cell of your body vibrates with its own intelligence.
Every atom is pure.”
— Ellen Bass