Individual Liberty, in the American Mind, Became Synonymous with America, and Americans Consider Themselves the World’s Freest People
There is a crowd of tourists
blocking the subway turnstiles
at Union Square.
They can’t figure out which way
to swipe their Metrocard
and I’m thinking to myself,
this is why tokens were better
when the cop taps me on the shoulder.
I stare at him
a little confused
and realize that even though
I peed at the bar before we left
I think I might have to go again.
“We need to check your bag,” he tells me,
pointing to his partner
at the table.
At first I’m confused
and then annoyed
but I comply
because he’s a cop
and if he says he needs to check my bag,
It must be true.
I drop it on the table
and the female cop
glares at me,
her tight face
under her little hat
and suddenly I hate her.
“Open it. Remove the contest of your bag, ma’am.”
I sigh loudly
because now I’m pissed
and from it
pull the new jacket I bought
at Old Navy because it’s getting cold
and I don’t have a jacket
and the empty plastic water bottle.
“Good enough?” I ask
before ramming the contents back in my bag.
It’s a pretty shoddy search
as far as searches go.
If I had a bomb
I could have folded it in the coat
or slipped it in the pocket.
She doesn’t look in there
never even touches the jacket
because she doesn’t really want to know.
I’m just here to fill
the White Girl Quota for the day.
They’ve been doing this since 2005
and I’ve never been stopped.
Sure I’ve seen the police, standing like SS
hands folded, eyeing us from under their hats
but we’ve all just accepted it.
It’s the price of freedom, we tell ourselves
or those that control our freedom
and we agree.
Because we’re Americans and nothing if not agreeable.
Either way, you wouldn’t be worried unless you had something to hide right?
Isn’t that true? Isn’t that what they ask you if you protest?
“Everything okay, Osama?” my husband asks me
as I rejoin him,
now pushing past the tourists,
slipping through the turnstile
and catching the N train back to Brooklyn
just before they close the doors
thinking to myself
so help me god,
if I had missed this train…..