I told myself it couldn't be, but then the patches spread.
The doctors gasped; I found myself alone outside the city;
I wept as people watched in fear, their loathing mixed with pity.
Alone I begged beside the path where once I'd proudly walked; They threw me little scraps of bread, but no one stayed to talk.
I missed their touch, my son's small hand, my father on my arm, my wife--If she should get it too--
"Unclean! Stand Back!" "Alarm!"
I waited...and I wearied...I'd forgotten how to pray.
I grew cynical and surly, and I dreaded every day
One evening brought two hurried men; I heard their tattered speech: "He's meddlesome...he'd better leave...he angers all the priests. He breaks the sabbath, quotes the scripture as if it were his own,
Talks to sinners...and touches things that were better left alone."
At a distance in the evening gray, I saw them all outlined,
a dozen rushing far ahead, and a weary one behind.
I dared not think. I only ran, with a burst of speed that drained me,
feet tearing on the jagged rocks; but nothing would restrain me.
Then in the dust beside the road I crumpled overcome,
I bled unclean upon the path. To what depths had I plunged?
I heard my own heart throbbing, then footsteps on the path.
I covered my head to shield it from the traveler's certain wrath.
Footsteps tired...slowing....stopping. I dared not face the man.
I just cried "If you are willing....Sir I know, I know you can."
Then I felt it. His hand upon me. "I am willing. You are clean."
He had touched me. I was human. I was not a thing obscene.
He had touched me! The untouchable!
"Show the priests that you are well."
"Don't tell anyone who healed you."
But of course....I had to tell.