The Nickel


As a child
one winter day
I walked around
in search of play

And then I found
a nickel lying
in the frozen ground
I clawed the ice away
snatched up the nickel
and sneaked away

The wind was cruel
the air on fire
my feet were burning
my future dire

I finally reached
the candy store
stomped snow off my shoes
and shoved in the door

I found the clerk
to see what he’d say
I held up my nickel
I was willing to pay
he gave me a glance
and just turned away

Back outside
it was brutally cold
I had cash in my pocket
I felt rather bold

Then at the deli
I had my next try
looking back now
I cannot say why

Next to the counter
A barrel of pickles
I thought I could get one
with my pitiful nickel

“A pickle for a nickel?”
the old owner laughed
“Not in this store–
Not since back in nineteen hundred
and twenty-three, or was it -four?”
He assured me that
it was last priced so
when a nickel had
a buffalo

Outside once more
with a wispy white sigh
If I didn’t spend this thing
I was likely to die

A bus stopped near me
its doors opened wide
I’d get home faster
I gave it a try

On and off
in the blink of an eye
the driver kept talking
about nineteen sixty-five

At long last at home
I paused once outside
my body was numb now
but I’d probably survive

I looked at my nickel
and felt little pride
I gave it back to
the white frozen ground
and then turned round
to go inside


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