Poem: Hard Talk

What if understanding is a light

we glimpse beyond the thorny thicket

of difficult conversation? What if polite banter

won’t get us there, and even civil discourse

keeps us here in our old meadow of safety

and ignorance? What if it takes a few bruises

and scratches to reach that light? What if

you and I need to wade in together, talking

recklessly—not silent, not shouting,

but fierce in listening, saying How is it

for you? Tell me about that. I want

to know what I never knew.

I need your suffering to erase

my denial, and my pain

to illuminate your path.

Ready? Let’s begin.


Written by Kim Stafford, in reflection of SAGE’s Citizenship Conversation at Rosewood Initiative