Ellen June Wright: Haymaker

for Tyre Nichols

I think of agrarian culture and see farmer’s-tanned men in straw hats and white tunics with sleeves rolled up and tattered slacks among fields turned bright-green under the yellow-ocher sun just as a French impressionist would have rendered them and smell fresh cut grass tossed upon the land to dry; they spread cuttings after May’s mowing with sickle or scythe and return sometime later to gather and bundle it for sale or for livestock they husband daily.

When I hear haymaker, I think of the apparatus for rolling bales, until they’re taller than a man, that rest on the fields.

The last thing I think of when I hear haymaker is a blow, a tight fist, cocked back like a catapult ready to spring forward against a man’s cheek, a tom-tom’s beat until his jaw is broken, a man with hands cuffed behind his back, already tased and pepper sprayed, tossed about like a burlap doll filled with straw; then left to sit upon wet asphalt, propped up against the police cruiser, until our silhouette slumps over.

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