poetry · Recent

Love is love is love*

First Corinthians chapter thirteen

verses four through seven.

We all probably know it.

It’s those verses about love.

The ones people read in wedding ceremonies.

“Love suffers long and is kind;

love bears all things

believes all things hopes all things

endures all things.”

I left some parts out, but that’s what most of us remember.

Taking a backhand from my father, I tried to make sense of that verse.

Crying while my mother combed my hair until my

golden roots were flecked with red, spitting hatred

and regret so that it echoed in my eardrums,

I tried to understand that verse.

Pretending to be asleep with eyes squeezed

tight, tight, hoping he would just go away

this time.

What the fuck was love? I was supposed to

endure because I loved them.

But what about how they were supposed to love me?

I recited that verse so often to myself

trying to understand.

I didn’t know what love was until

my fist made contact with nose and bones

cracked underneath

because that asshole was hitting

my best friend again.

You see, love can be kind and patient

and long-suffering.

Love is hugs and quiet smiles. Love

is making cookies

or bringing soup or ordering pizza for delivery

when your friend had a bad day.

Love is hours of talking over drinks or coffee.

Love is small gestures and quiet kindness.

But love is also loud, and angry

Love is holding protest signs and

teaching James Baldwin and slapping my students down

when they say slut, retard, faggot or worse

because my love doesn’t have to endure hatred.

Love is.

Love is.

Love is ferocious.

*with a nod to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Acceptance speech

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