For a Young Friend Who Believes She is Bad

by Nausheen Eusuf

Convinced of your iniquity, you insist
you are bad. Not just bad, but wicked, vile,
evil, depraved. You shouldn’t even exist,
a loathsome creature full of malice and guile.

But you were born a blank slate, so if you’re bad
you must have learned it from your mum and dad,
and they in turn from theirs. Now you can heave
a sigh of relief: being bad goes back to Adam and Eve.

In truth, this weeded garden’s all we know.
Blind and bound like the poor souls in Plato’s cave,
this is our home, and we’re all one kin, though
we may be scoundrel, scalawag, rogue or knave.

So if everyone’s bad, and God seems not to care,
why do you persist in your fruitless despair?