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.

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


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