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
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
because that asshole was hitting
my best friend again.
You see, love can be kind and patient
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 ferocious.
*with a nod to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Acceptance speech