when i was seven years old, a group of kids in my grade threw rocks at me for liking neopets more than webkinz. from then on, i was convinced i knew what hatred meant. but i don’t know how to describe it to the little girl who sits in the corner of my womb and in ten years might call me mommy and ask for help on dividing the world into black and white.
would i point to the churches with their bigotry? to the cotton fields of the south in the 1800s? to the classrooms of modern day america? would i tell her about how the jews stood in straight lines, waiting to die, with fear in their eyes and faith in their hearts? or would i try and describe the sound tyler clementi’s body made when it hit the water of the hudson river after he jumped from the george washington bridge?
would i point to myself and say, “i am hatred, i am hatred to others. i am lying and cheating and stealing and coveting and jealousy and hubris. i am the idea of every time someone wants to kill someone, or a cop beats up a pedestrian. i am street brawls and blown up bombs. i am closed coffins and suicide victims. i am bullet-proof belief, and bullet–proved belief. self hatred is my redemption because even monsters have mirrors, and there is a balance that exists everywhere.”
and if she turned her head and asked me to describe peace to her?
would i say the opposite of war or maybe the imaginary goal we all sing songs about around campfires but go back to shooting spitballs at the backs of each other’s heads? would i say kumbaya my lord, kumbaya? would i say that time of autumn where there are no more chaotic falling leaves because all of them are already dead? would i point to the time before humans were intelligent enough to fight? The time of australopithecines and few IQ points, and no weapons of mass destruction? would i tell her about the time the hittites and the egyptians signed the first ever peace treaty?
would i say, “my name’s grace and that means gift from god, but i will never be a gift from god, ask anyone who knows me. i’ve messed them up so bad, i must be some kind of punishment. that amazing grace song gives us graces a bad name. sometimes we’re not amazing. we’re just wretches who live their whole life blind, afraid to see. and i’m definitely not amazingly, joyously, god’s gift to the people in my life. you know what’s an awesome name? clementine. because she drowned and I’ve never gotten the hang of breathing and swimming at the same time, so some days i think my head’s not gonna break the surface before i run out of air. that was a metaphor, sweetie. you want to know what peace means? wait a few years—they’ll have peace when I’m dead.”