"Bones" by Lynn Ungar

By Lisa Presley

Cover for The Brittle Beauty of It All by Lynn Ungar

This poem, by Lynn Ungar, from her book The Brittle Beauty of It All, struck me deeply the moment I read it. Yes, I said, too often I hear this phrase, and I’ve never had a good answer for it. Lynn’s poem “Bones” sets the stage for a possible answer going forward. Deep appreciation for Lynn, and her poetic gifts, and the permission to reprint her words here. You can find more of Lynn’s work on her website.

You tell me I don’t have
a racist bone in my body

and I believe you. The long
pillars of your tibia,
the delicate wings of your clavicles,
the intricate jewelry of your feet,
all are innocent in their creamy whiteness.
Your brain is a different story.
Your brain, like mine, is tribal
from its prehistoric roots.
Your brain, like mine, was grown
in a laboratory of lies. Your brain,
like mine, tells stories that are thrilling
but unreliable. Your brain, like mine,
is doing the best that it can
to make its way in a broken world.
It is your muscle that scares me.

© Lynn Ungar, 2022. Used with permission.

About the Author

Lisa Presley

Lisa Presley is a life-long Unitarian Universalist who was an active lay leader before entering our ministry in 1991. As a lay leader she was board president, board member, worship associate, stewardship campaign chair, religious education teacher, bookkeeper, secretary, and shoveled the snow as...

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