Monday, April 26, 2010

The Next New Thing at Airport Security: Palms Up

The two men in blue gloves, sort of kindly jocular but serious too, pull me off the line and say, “excuse me, ma’am, we have to check your hands.” “This is new,” I say, curious but there can’t be any joking, not even an evident curiosity, not even the slightest question, so I quickly divert my eyes and fix my face not to reveal itself, its interest in the notion of putting my hands out, palms up, to strangers. I think about how I think I look – clearly a 60-year-old woman, with gray hair at the roots, my hair pulled back; I’m wearing my black tunic with rainbow embroidery on it and my black yoga pants underneath; I’ve dressed for comfort in coach, but I’ve also picked my clothes to feel like “me,” like this woman who travels, who’s kind of interesting. I’ve got my favorite California necklace on, a circle of reassuring polished stones, with earrings to match, and I feel earthy and seasoned. Anyway, they make me reach my hands out, palms up, and one of the men brushes a brush over the soft pads at the base of the fingers, the crease of my lifeline, a brush attached to a tube attached to a machine. For just a moment there’s a weird intimacy, the palms of my hands, the two men, the machine – and I stand there and they turn their back and look at the machine. “It just takes seven seconds,” they say, like when you get a mammogram, like when the kind woman ducks off out of the room to avoid the radiation and you have to hold your breath and you wonder if there’s something dark and scary inside your most beloved part, the part that never got to suckle a child but that your husband loves and says so often, and then the machine stops and she says, okay, and comes back in and takes off the plates to see what’s there, to see if you moved and your breast left its mark or if you maybe moved and there’s the slightest blur, the blur of your body saying, no, no, don’t know this thing about me. Anyway, the seven seconds go by and I’m standing there with my arms still raised, my palms still up, and I'm balancing on my whole feet, the way I practice in yoga, feeling my toe mounds and my heels solid against the floor, grounding themselves and my chi or whatever you call it right down into the earth's core, and then the men say, "Okay, you’re okay," and I put my palms down, wondering what it would be like to have a bitter explosive on my skin, sabotaging crystals, instead of just the anxious pink airport soap and the knowing epidermis of my whole beloved life of touching and holding things and I head to Gate 2 and my next short-term escape.

4 comments:

totallyphilip said...

This is such a beautiful piece - poetry and essay as one. I love it.

The Cat Bastet said...

Weird -- but it's better than the nude x-ray or a strip search!

The Cat Bastet said...

Weird -- but it's better than a nude x-ray or a strip search!

Macy Swain said...

Sorry you two -- I apparently set my blog to moderate comments and didn't realize it -- until just this minute. Thanks for commenting and for reading...