Hate by Nikky Finney

a poem

Arthur Ravenal, Republican Senator from South Carolina, called the NAACP the “National Association for Retarded People” at a Confederate flag support rally. He later said, “I made a mistake and I feel very badly about it because I said retarded people and I have a retarded son.” He added, “that does not mean I’m apologizing to the NAACP.”

How does the father
with the son
struggling to be seen whole
in the eyes of the world
forget the son
long enough
for a slip of the tongue
to be recorded
forever
for posterity’s sake
how does the father not think
that the son will ever know
what he said
that day at the rally
when he slipped
and he the father revealed
his true feelings
about he
the son
the same feelings
he feels about people
different
how does the father
slip off one tongue
while he is rallying
his confederate troops
and slip on another

later
after the rally
when he is home
with his son
gentle inheritor of his name

he does not
the slippery tongue is one in the same

What could make you
forget your son?
a fight over a flag
the heat from a simmering civil war
hate stops at nothing
not even
the sacred door
to a son’s private room

More about Nikky Finney here.
Text from here.