A Clean Heart


Psalm 51:1-12

Purge my whitewashed heart,

O genderless God.

Unpack from inside of me

the prejudices of an oppressor,

knead away old biases

that lurk and permeate:

wipe my clean-slate

black-and-white face rainbow,

and open me

to the translucence of empathy.

Confront me with the everyday human:

the human I choose to ignore every day,

heart torn between ragged clothes

and burning, desperate human stories:

stories I am afraid to hear

for fear of translucent empathy:

empathy for which there is no

space or time or deadline

in my whitewashed heart.

You did not paint us in just one shade of human,

instead creating a world whose heart

is every colour we are yet to imagine:

a world designed on the premise

of elusively translucent human empathy:

a world of stories carved in skin,

where friendship is the offering of a chisel

so that we may decorate our whitewashed hearts

with every human colour we encounter.

The everyday human huddles

in pedestrian tunnels,

hands outstretched and waiting,

chisel sold long ago for a half-remembered meal.

Their stories are etched in scarred, sagging skin,

fingers curled in memory

of the last flesh-pen they held,

the last time empathy rendered them translucent.

Somewhere deep inside this whitewashed heart

is a chisel in desperate need of a lend.

#poetry #lent #psalm51

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