I have not been feeling well.
I took to the couch yesterday
to watch old movies and the new cat.
Then this morning on Seinfeld
Mr. Constanza held up a coin
You ever seen a silver dollar?
And I was six years old again
pouring out change on my mother’s bed.
She had been collecting silver dollars,
wheat pennies, Canadian coins
bearing Queen Elizabeth’s profile –
anything uncommon to us –
in a lidded Mason jar
since before she was married.
I used to play in them,
my hands taking on the scent
of copper as I turned them
like old friends to see their faces,
and practiced the trick of guessing
which coin was passed around
by how warm it feels in comparison.
Eventually I stopped looking at coins
and took to reading everything
I could get my hands on.
Usually that meant the library
but sometimes on payday
in the checkout line at the store
an Archie’s Comics Digest would
call my name and my mother
would let me get it.
I suppose the appeal was of
looking into a life I’d never know,
or the satisfaction of something new.
One day my uncle came down
to the house and asked if
we needed anything from the store.
It wasn’t payday, so we didn’t,
but for some reason I spoke up
“I need a comic book!”
and wished immediately
that I could suck the words back in
from where they hung in the air.
I probably said, “Just kidding,”
or the “Never mind,” for which I
am still known, and went to my room.
My mother was quiet, my uncle left,
but later that day there was
an Archie Comics Digest
waiting for me on the kitchen table
and quite a few less coins
in the jar.