A badged man waves paper over my hands.
I ask what he wants to find.
"Traces of explosives," the man explains.
"Wow!" I remark to my palms.
After takeoff, I ask the steward,
"What do they want to know?"
"If you built a bomb or fired a gun."
The man across the aisle snickers.
"She's old enough to be my mother."
I want my forefinger to grow bony
so I can poke him in the ribs and hiss,
"These old hands have strangled cats."
Instead, I fold my dangerous hands
in an age-appropriate way,
and smile when the snickering guy
peeks to see if I am his mother.
If mothers and grandmothers were screened for violent thoughts,
airlines would go out of business.
Nancy Harris McLelland taught creative writing, composition, and literature for over twenty years and Conducted writing workshops for the Western Folklife Center, Great Basin College , and the Great Basin Writing Project . An Elko County native with a background in ranching. McLelland has presented her "Poems from Tuscarora" Both at daytime and evening events at the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko. Her essay, "Border Lands: Cowboy Poetry and the Literary Canon" is in the anthology Cowboy Poetry Matters .