A concrete goddess with a placid smile
pours water from a Grecian urn
into a clamshell pool. She stares
at her rippling reflection—
or perhaps she counts her coins
(200 or so, I would guess).
Annie asks, Got a penny? Make a wish
but don’t tell me, or else it won’t come true.
Cute. But not our modern business way
which would require that we first advertise,
count the traffic, greet customers
as they wander in. Politely, we get names
phone numbers, addresses (email too).
Pennies are fine but we encourage quarters,
based on long wishing experience
and surveys that ask,
Was the fountain was clean?
Was the staff courteous?
Would you say this fountain was better or worse
than other fountains in which you have wished?
Would you recommend our fountain to others?
And did your wish (or wishes, depending
on the number of coins) come true?
Fortunately this is not my fountain.
Annie pokes me. Go ahead. But don’t tell me
or it won’t come true. Wanting to believe,
I make the wish. I toss the penny.
This poem first appeared in High Horse Poetry Magazine, 2004.
Used here with the author’s permission.