A crevice on the pavement clasped tightly
onto an Abraham Lincoln, its
bronzed beard blotched by callousness, its
face touched by countless fingertips, its
body soiled with germs. Created in 1992,
it had wandered from hand to hand to pavement,
tread upon by indifferent feet. “Liberty” - it read
as it shouldered streams of people’s weight.
Rendered invisible by its worth,
no one stopped to claim it —
Until your curious eyes spotted it.
We were walking on the sidewalk when you picked
it up and held it against light. It was
inspected by your eyes, your lips forming
a question mark – was this worth keeping?
As you and honest Abe faced off, I thought
about how you would tuck yourself away,
like small change in a pocket. There
were fingerprints indented into your
impressionable skin that no amount
of soap could wash off. People had thrust
their hands into your chest to plant their germs
into your heart—erupting into black
swarms of viruses fueled by shame. Trampled
by words and spoken to with fists, you had
wandered from hand to hand to pavement.
The ridges of your lips had cried out
for Liberty since 1992.
The one person you could not embrace was yourself.
Disgusted, you released your hand — the sound of copper hit-
ting the ground was softer than the explosion
of my heart. You walked away, and I caught up,
hands full, the right holding your hand learning
to trust — the left cradling the penny.