from The Golden Coin


The Golden Coin

on a train from Buenos Aires to Tigre

The sun rises out of the broad river––

“We’ve each been given a golden coin!”

you think as the railroad car sways,

filling with a buttery light.

You look around at the young,

how they enjoy themselves! ––

as if they’ve been given this very morning

a treasure for their dowry. 

You see the old dozing in their seats. 

They have no need to open their eyes,

they know their stations by heart.

Even now they are thinking of this sunrise,

one more than they ever thought they’d receive.

They are so grateful!  A golden coin!

I will never rust (goes the song).

We are rolling on tracks of silver, beside the river of silver,

but I am golden, warm as a loaf of bread . . .

When the train leans, the passengers lean too,

and hold on to their straps, their poles.

The car’s crammed full today, full of treasure!––

so many travelers on their way to the beach.

That’s why they’re laughing. 

They know how valuable they are,

how irreplaceable, even if they’re poor,

though no one can be poor

when each morning without fail

another coin, a golden coin

rises out of the broad river.

from The Golden Coin, published by University of Wisconsin Press 2018

artwork:  Nan Hass Feldman, Evening at the Rice Terraces