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Poetry of Issue #8        Page 65

SILVER PENNIES
for my mother

In a lilting voice,
like a breeze in June,
you read me poems
about elves and fairies.
“Who knows the wind?”
“I do, I do!”

I can still hear you,
and recall the book’s name—
Silver Pennies.

When I’m four,
kneeling by your bed,
we play a new game,
our new daily ritual—

you are teaching me to read,
starting with the letter “A.”

I am enchanted by the floating,
rippling spectacle of “Swan Lake.”
At seven, I write a poem about it.
“Is that what swans sound like?”

In high school, you gave me
Slouching Towards Bethlehem
by Joan Didion. Her take on
hippies and the golden state
hit me like a tidal wave.
Thank you.

At your alma mater,
I read the great poets—
but, strangely, wasn’t moved.
Instead, I felt called
to journalism,
That the people shall know.

I went on to edit and write
about subjects real and hard
as granite—
same as you.
For a while, it felt good
to pay the rent.

When you reached your 80s, Mom,
I watched you sustain yourself
by reading fine literature, at first
understanding it all, then—
just holding objects,
staring. Perhaps that’s why

I started writing poems again,
including one for you, on your 91st birthday.
And yet, when I showed you
my poem, your face was blank.

But it doesn’t matter, Mom—
when you could, you gave me
silver pennies—in a lilting voice,
like a breeze in June.

  Jacqueline Coleman-Fried