Hate

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When I was little,

An itty bitty child in an itty bitty house,

My mother told me:

“Now don’t you hate.

“Hate is a strong word, a bad word.

“Hate makes people weak.

“Hate drives out love.”

So I tried to never hate anyone –

But not hating is sometimes hard.

And it was a long time before I learned

That not hating someone and loving them

Are two different things;

That withholding my anger

And handing out my love

Are never

The same.

So all through my life, I’ve tried

Over and over and over again

To not hate:

No, not even my 3rd grade teacher,

Mrs. P, who told me to “Just try harder”

And that “I wasn’t doing enough”

When it came to math and science,

And I never hated my grandparents

For slamming my queer best friend in front of her,

Or my cross-country teammates

For calling me lazy

Because I was the slowest on the team.

No, I never hated those people,

And I never gave them my love.

Because hate is a strong word.

I would never hate another person.

Maybe someday I can also learn

To not hate, even to love,

Myself.

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