A TSA agent lifts your nursling

from your arms.

Flagged, he says.

Just a baby, you say.


The white man behind you

navy tie, slightly loosened

who’d just been cooing at your little one—

fiddles with the cuff of his starched shirt


around you

feeds his briefcase into the bowels of

the x-ray machine as if

you never existed.


The agent takes your baby

a few feet away

a few feet away

is the length of a football field.


Your breasts weep, leak milk


the front of your shirt.


Travelers with tunnel vision don’t notice

or, more likely, don’t care

your diapered child

just out of

the womb is

suspected of terrorism.


The agents

examine your baby like


Is it overripe?

Do these folds of dimpled

flesh foreshadow



They’ve forgotten about you,

the mother


without your daughter

breaths trapped under your lead diaphragm

whispering promises

the baby

won’t bomb the plane


you can’t use the word



Anjali Enjeti is an award-winning Atlanta-based journalist, essayist and critic. Her work has appeared in The Georgia Review, The Paris Review, The Nation, Washington Post, Newsday, Al Jazeera, Longreads, Guernica, and elsewhere. She teaches creative writing in the MFA program at Reinhardt Unviersity and currently serves as Vice President of Membership for the National Book Critics Circle.

What unnecessary scrutiny have you been subjected to or witnessed going through airport security? Tell us in the comments.

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