The ruddy marrow
Integrity is nothing like a tattoo
and unlike the rumor of beauty,
only skin deep, facing outward,
like a bumper sticker,
its splendor or wisdom,
public assertion of affection or opinion
designed for the elucidation
and edification of others.
Integrity is a tattoo pointing inward,
stained on the underside of the dermis,
ink in the blood
down to the ruddy marrow,
an indelible, inviolable, privately negotiated
contract with one's true self,
nothing to do with advocacy or influence,
identity or display but a personal,
permanent rejoinder, reminder,
the pearls of a secret adherence
never reaching the gawking,
insensitive eyes and ears of swine.
O child of God, keep counsel with your pillow
and enter into thy closet to pray.