Published by Atticus Review, December 9, 2017
Ahead of me at the Spokane Airport
security line, a man in a dated plaid suit
is carrying a jar of butterflies
and taking heat from TSA for it.
He’s far ahead and I am standing
in a winding line, but I can taste the tension.
The man is waving his arms while security
stares at and touches the jar,
a jar large enough for two dozen
jumbo pickles. They handle it with incredulity,
lifting it above their heads and looking up
at the butterflies from the bottom of the jar.
I can’t hear any arguments on either side,
but the butterfly man seems to have given up
on this discussion and who knows what else.
He looks firmly at a TSA agent
before grabbing back the jar, twisting off
the lid and freeing the butterflies,
all different colors and sizes. He watches
them dissipate above our heads through
the airport with tears and laughter.
“Are you happy now?” the butterfly man asks,
loud enough for me to hear. “Tell me,” he shouts,
turning to all of us, “if any of you are truly happy.”