Tough Love

Love is
Being brave enough to tell your own mother
That Oriental refers to an object
And not a person,
It’s also being bold enough say that
Just because she didn’t know
Doesn’t mean she’s too old to learn,
Love is also being that mother
Who tells her husband that it’s time he realized that
Oriental is a rug and not the neighbor
And when he says, “I didn’t know,”
She says, “Well, you do now.”
Love is
The husband who then stops himself,
Mid-sentence, mid-syllable
Corrects himself and then adds,
“I’m sorry. I’m still learning.”
Love is the growing awareness
That ignorance is only bliss
To the ignorant
And that for too many others
It is the blister
That swelters and burns and invalidates
In a way so seemingly benign
Someone else’s rage.
Love is learning that “Just be Kind” is a lazy excuse
To keep from tightening your shoe laces
And walking proudly in this time,
For love is the stumbler
Whose words may trip awkwardly
Over the way it was to the way it needs to be
But who cares enough, who loves enough
To get it right.