Do you remember afternoons
dumping out the can of coins
and counting them with dad?
Ten pennies made a tower;
a wall of ten, a dollar.
He did nickels, dimes, and quarters.
I was the princess of pennies.
After hours of counting,
came the delicate task
of stacking the copper
flat in the wrappers.
He said little fingers
were good for that,
the neat, crisp folding
of the sleeves.
I loved those rolls in my hand,
their shape and heft had power.
We strode together
and traded them for treasure
down at the corner. Beer for him
and a Hershey bar for me.
Now, I take my coins to the bank,
willy-nilly in a can.
Down the chute they go.
No time spent, no towers.
Minutes later, the teller returns
with the empty container
and I go to my car,
a little bit poorer,
my pocket full of dollars.
From A Brief History of Mail (Pebblebrook Press, 2011).
Used with the author’s permission.
|Purchase a framed print of this poem.
Lisa Vihos began writing poetry in college, then changed directions and was an art museum educator for twenty years. In 2007, she returned to poetry, her first love; she is now the author of two chapbooks (A Brief History of Mail, Pebblebrook Press, 2011, and The Accidental Present, forthcoming this summer from Finishing Line Press), works as an associate editor for Stoneboat Literary Journal, and is an occasional guest blogger for the The Best American Poetry. Lisa’s work has appeared in numerous small journals, most recently in the anthology, Villanelles (Everyman's Library). Currently the alumni director of Lakeland College, she lives in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, where she enjoys Lake Michigan, cooking, movies, reading, bicycling, listening to her teenage son play guitar, and zumba--not necessarily in that order.
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Mpderm Tech, Eh? My Daddy used to save pennies for me, too.
Posted 06/26/2012 05:15 PM
"Princess of pennies"--a wonderful phrase. And those last three lines end the poem with a punch.
Posted 06/13/2012 08:39 AM
Marilyn L Taylor:
Really charming, Lisa. And just for the record, "willy-nilly" can also mean "haphazard" (according to the American Heritage Dictionary-- so from my p.o.v. it works just fine.
Posted 06/13/2012 08:23 AM
"the princess of pennies" love that line, Lisa, and the poem!
Posted 06/13/2012 07:41 AM
"Willy-nilly" actually means "whether willing or not." Perhaps the intended expression was "higgledy-piggledy," which means "in disarray."
Posted 06/13/2012 07:04 AM
Wonderful poem, Lisa. Do you remember how your hands smelled after stacking and wrapping the coins? I sure do. Cheers, Mandi
Posted 06/13/2012 06:55 AM