A Penny I Have Found

Oh, how I love to walk.
I used to take a good long walk every day.
Now I walk across the street to get the mail,
Or across the grocery store parking lot
To buy a newspaper or loaf of bread.
Then I walk back again.

Across, then back.
Across . . . . . . . . . . then . . . . . back.

I notice the sun when I�m walking,
The wind, the clouds, the seam where the curb
And asphalt meet beneath the splintered post
That holds up the rusted, dented mailbox,
Or the painted lines in the parking lot
Discolored by oil, spit, and grime �

But wait: here�s a coin, a penny I have found.

It�s the same penny, over and over again,
The one I dropped into a hundred gumball machines
When I was a kid, the one I put into a sidewalk scale
As I climbed aboard to see how much I weighed,
The one that stained my fingers with money-smell
And tasted bitter through my nose.

Where has it been, and through whose hands?
Into my pocket then, into my pocket, then home,
Into my life, into my shoes, into my sleep,
Into my bones � into everything I�ve known.

How can I tell my children I pick up pennies?
How can I tell them how thrilled I am?
I don�t need to. They already understand:
It�s just one way of being born again �
That, and yelling, and making up things,
Including all I need to make up to them.

Across, then back again, bearing thoughts
No one in his right mind would believe.
Up the driveway, along the sidewalk,
Past the bush I trimmed to find my mother
Waiting at her door: an old jar full of pennies
Cracked and chipped at the rim.

I put another penny in. I put another penny in.

September 1, 2006

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