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.”

Photo By: Brandice Schnabel