Residue (September 11, 2017, de Gaulle Airport)

lbelans

 

I watch

her white-gloved hand disappears

inside my pewter-hued backpack

that's traveled with me

across   time    space

regret

 

I see her

remove each piece

meticulously

tucked and stored

into soft pockets

behind zippered compartments

buried

in deep wells

and shallow holds

 

Cautiously

she extracts the items

as if she understands

the weight

they carrythe history,

handling them

as though they could split

crumble, dissolve

into dust

 

She glides

her hands over worn containers

like the blind man

exploring the elephant

 

She waves

an electronic wand

over each artifact

as if decoding it

Perhaps she will discover

a buried secret

or detect

the squishy sound of memory

 

I observe

without comment

forbidden

to touch, question, explain

 

She carefully

lays each examined object

one, then the other

on the cold steel table

 

Here

splayed 

in front of me

my most essential artifacts

of living, fragments

I cannot leave behind

memories

I lug around

 

Here, I am

a bystander

to my own life

whose fate

to move on with it

is in the hands

of a uniformed stranger.

 

         ******

Quintets

of military police,

assault weapons

strapped diagonally across their chests

move in formation

scanning the crowded concourse,

their white-gloved hands

at the ready