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Michael Brockley
Heroism As a Feminine Noun

The wind billows Ieshia Evans’ summer dress around her calves as she stands alone in the center of Airline Highway. It is another American summer, and black men are being killed for driving with broken taillights. For selling CDs at the entrance to convenience stores. She might be walking home from a hospital shift where she nursed premature babies or triaged gunshot victims. On the grass behind her, white men gather to lean against lamp posts or point at the SWAT team confronting her. Evans could be the woman who tore down the Confederate flag in Columbia or the woman who turned back 300 skinheads with ferocity and a purse. Instead, she is a nurse in Louisiana, armed with a silver necklace and a hint of earrings, who stares beyond the stormtroopers trapped in the black exoskeletons of urban war, beyond the ranks of anonymous helmets and face shields. Evans covers her stomach with her right hand. Offers to the handcuffs her left, in which she holds something white. Her gaze is fixed beyond the trees. Her dress might have been woven from butterfly wings.