4/1/09

Common Coin by Marie Harris

Common Coin

I remember my dad used to...tell people
that he gave the Old Man a shave and a hair cut."
David Nielsen, official caretaker, son of Niels: "The Old Man Behind the Old Man" (Concord Monitor 1/1/99)


Shave and a haircut, two bits. Profilius
looks mighty fine on the coin's state side:
shored up, spit-shined—in mint condition
you might say—for today's unveiling.

But even gussied up, the quarter's still
a common coin, clinking in the pockets
of poor and rich alike, a coin with which
to buy time for a load or two of laundry,

time in the parking meter's monitor
of our comings and goings, time enough
to sip a take-out coffee, phone a friend.
Though time is—as they say—money,

it's time we never get enough of and
no minted coin's more valuable than that.
Still, this Old Man's granite visage—sculpted
from a rock-hard, rock-ribbed history,

tempered in the kilns of summer fire
and winter ice—is now, to coin a phrase,
coin of New Hampshire's realm, and as such,
(in service to the general welfare) well spent here!

During her tenure as NH Poet Laureate (1999-2004) Marie Harris wrote three "public" poems: two for gubernatorial inaugurations and one to celebrate the minting of the New Hampshire quarter. Her most recent books are G is for Granite, an alphabet book, and Primary Numbers a counting book for children. (Both are from Sleeping Bear Press). She is working on a new book about America's first female composer: Henniker-born Amy Beach. Marie has lived in Barrington, NH since 1977.

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Poem and photo are used here with the permission of the poet, all rights reserved.

2 comments:

Pat said...

great photo! And a terrific poem too. Congratulations to Marie.

Pat Fargnoli

Cassie said...

Continues to reinforce my total inferiority complex when it comes to All Things Marie.

Cassie Eckhof