Ian Hankin

What Makes A Person?

What makes a person? Is a robot alive?
What if instead of two legs you had five?
What if your skin was a green, sickly hue?
What if your blood flowed a deep, darkish blue?
At what point can you say,
“A person should not be this way.”?
What if your origin was not of the Earth?
What if you suddenly appeared, without birth?
What if you were just a brain in a jar,
After most of your body was crushed by a car?
Where is the line, solid and clear,
That separates us from that which we fear?
A line that divides the things kept in a zoo
From everyday people like me and you?
A line that is simple, clear-cut, and easy to see,
That boldly states, “This is how a person should be.”
In my opinion, if you care to know,
Being a person isn't something you show.
It's not something you can tell from a look,
Nor will you find it within any book.
It's not a thing you can choose for another.
You don't get it from your father or mother.

There's no easy answer, but I'll give you a clue,
The only one who can decide it is you.


Copyright 2002-2008 Student Publishing Program (SPP). Poetry and prose 2002-2008 by individual authors. Reprinted with permission. SPP developed and designed by Strong Bat Productions.