Saturday, August 11, 2012

"See Something? Say Something."

I see senior after senior pulled aside
each apologizes for not removing
from bags packed with care & wrinkled fingers.
items certain to be incendiary:
a bottle of water she'd meant to drink while waiting in line.
I think of my own grandparents
and let loose a shudder
noticeable to those who stand directly behind
they look me over with the disdain
that's become the comfort of the modern traveler.

I see their anxieties bristle into xenophobic bitterness
I see my thoughts curdle at the sound of their french
at the sound of chinese.
For a moment
The security theatre begins to work,
and I despise them for their difference
for their compliance in this dignity-stripping ritual.

I see massed ritual submission.
I see the blind
the resigned;
A gangly teenager raises her arms for the machine,
Smiles big
& shows how much she's bracing.

I see my own resentment
Tensing my body
tensing my face.
I teeter,
soul tearing slow & terse away from skin.

I see them step into the backscatter machine
more than half are herded between its black box theatres
most assent easily
to its effects untested.
Don't want to cause a stir, see.
After unbuckling danger from my body
& placing all traces of agency
into plastic
ad tongued bins

I see that it is my turn.
I see the precipice between
metal detector and backscattered invasion
I see the waiting
I see the shabbily uniformed agent
before he notices me.
For a moment I hope
Maybe he wont.

He sees my naked feet first
his left arm waves toward invasion.
And quiet like a child's under discipline
I use my voice to see my feelings and say
“I'm not doing that.”

I see exasperation in his eyes
my teeth see the fear in my lip
and push it back in
I see myself holding up the line.
With fear-colored pupils cinching smaller
I see my own refusal as the problem it is causing.

“I see.”
After a wait
he provides me with a TSA agent
who matches the gender he has perceived me to be.

I see the X where she tells me to stand.
I see her mime the twisted ritual
her brown hand calmly script the forced intimacy
“back of the hand across the buttocks,
twice inside of the thigh.
Raise your arms
face palms to the sky.”

I see
the gloved hands hover
under arm pits,
blue behind my shoulders
where their hovering becomes
the seeing I do with my skin.
Muffled under my preemptive leggings
the pressure is slow

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