a widow’s mite redux – a poem by Jill Crainshaw

a widow’s mite redux

“don’t take those coins”
mama says in her scolding voice
as the girl dips into the wishing fountain
toward a sun-polished silver orb
the girl jerks her hand back
hides it in her jeans pocket
peers side-eyed into the sparkling water

“you don’t want to steal the wishes other
folks whispered into that old pocket change
if only alice would get well if only
raymond knew i love him if only
a nickel for passing tomorrow’s
math test a silver dollar to see daddy
one last time a dime for snow this
christmas a quarter for the violence
all of the violence all of the violence 
to end and who wants to 
carry any of that home”

the girl squints at the magical water-spray
and then just over there where silver-white curls 
spray out in the march wind but the woman
seems not to notice as she searches through
a well-used handbag “she looks lonely”

the girl stuffs her hands deep in her pockets
digs out a blue lego the yellow eraser she 
found in her desk in mrs harvey’s 2nd grade
reading class grandpas old car key a piece
of red yarn and two brown pennies

she reaches out to the woman
“one for me and one for you and we can 
wish at the same time mama always says 
be careful what you wish for” and 
the two of them old and young pitch
a single cent 
each coin somersaulting
into the water slipping 
through the surface down 
down on top of 
nickels dimes quarters
woman and girl watch
till the ripples quiet enough to 
mirror their faces 
side by side

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