Currency of Summer
We played chicken with freight trains
For the cheap thrill of transforming the
Pennies in our pockets.
Railroad tracks along the Keystone Line
Gleamed with a copper luster under light
From the Dog Star and the solstice moon.
Those slivers of metal became more valuable
After they were squished by the weight of train cargo
And blessed by the red light of the railroad crossing.
The coins we minted weren’t trinkets
We could spend at the general store.
They didn’t belong to the government.
We created a currency for our neighborhood.
We stockpiled them in mason jars,
Traded them for boyhood commodities,
And made necklaces for our girlfriends.
I can’t say when the others cashed out.
Maybe it was the day they started earning
Bigger coin in the mines and the mills.
I walk the tracks at night, searching for the
Cents we lost beneath the splintered ties.
There is a rusty coffee can in my garage
Filled with distorted faces and Lincoln memorials.
I recognize those weathered shapes
Better than my friends’ faces.
By Christian Sammartino