They Ask What Came First: The Hate Speech or the Attack

A woman walks to church the Monday 
after Easter. She's wearing a light
sweater because at last it feels
like it could truly be spring. But who
even goes to church anymore 
on a weekday morning in New York? 
The immigrant healthcare workers 
will tell you. The nannies and short-
order cooks, the 1 AM custodial 
workers; grandmothers who spent 
years polishing other people's floors 
on their knees as if before a god who only 
cares that every surface reflects 
his many countenances. See the figure 
that approaches her from left of camera, 
spitting words we know by now
have the power to wrench visible
what's usually invisible. Say scourge
and it becomes scourge, say peril;
say it must go or doesn't belong.   
See her fall beneath the weight 
of a boot. Imagine the crack of her 
pelvis on the pavement, a sound 
muffled by traffic in its banal
passage. Tell me how a woman 
slight of build could save every last 
penny in a clean pickle jar to put 
children through college, then
copper her with bruises as sudden 
flowers erupt on her face. A few 
feet away, three doormen shut 
double glass doors that might
have pulled her into quick safety. 
Across the street, someone 
is screaming. I don't know 
what words those might
have been. I wasn't there. I'm
there though I wasn't there.
 

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