Lisa Rosinsky



The sun's a penny and the moon's a dime

to my grandma, who counts the passing years

in small change.  There's always too much time,


she says, when you're alone.  And so she finds

small things to arrange, charts a course and steers

by the sun's penny, the moon's dime,


and the nickel stars, slowly onward: climbs

a ladder built from stacks of tight-packed years

like rolls of change.  There's always too much time


to cram into the jukebox, but on it whines,

the tired bluegrass jangle of the spheres:

The sun's a penny and the moon's a dime.


Grandma only likes my poems when they rhyme.

Too old for new coin tricks, eyes and ears

don't want to change.  There's always too much time


for small change, even when you're eighty-nine.

The jukebox case reflects the sunset smears

of the sun, a molten penny, the moon a meager dime.

Excuse me—who has change for too much time?





When I am old, I will be an old woman who quilts.

I will be too stiff to chase down butterflies and shadows

and other things that, flutteringly, escape collision.

I will be calmer when I face the unruled page:

I will let it have, sometimes, its vastness.


And when I find myself bewildered by the scraps I have collected—

Chintz, brocade, flannel, satin, taffeta, and tweed—

I will arrange them into rows and sew them firmly down.

Knowing what I know, I will make of them a thing that keeps a body warm.

(I will also sometimes think of you, and think of how we knew—

so well, so sweetly—how to make a thing that keeps a body warm.)





The smell of beer on Linda's breath, the fact

that I could recognize that smell.  The way

they peered at me and said, "You look just like

your mom."  These women knew my mom and dad


as Ned and Fay, as separate people, long

before before before.  The way Dad said

he didn't know what New York meant until

he left.  (The way I knew this was a poem.)


The way that Barbara showed me how a shell

is really just the absence of what lived

inside it, once upon a time.  She said,

"What really matters here is what we can't—"


and then was going to say see but dropped

the shell.  A piece broke off, and Linda said,

"You know—the shell can keep on growing, when

the critter's dead."  They gave the piece to me


and showed me how to use it as a tool

to mark the edges of the clay, to meld

one surface to another, seamlessly.

The way we passed by Lucketts, Lovettsville,


and Leesburg on the way—the places where

my parents lived when I was growing toes,

as curled and salty as a conch's snail,

folded, molded, welded, clay-like, warm.


The way we finally, squinting, found the car

by flashlight, hugged and said goodbyes, and drove

into the night.  The sculpted shell I made,

already melted into something else


before (before, before) we made it home.

A recent graduate of the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University, Lisa Rosinsky works as an intern for Smartish Pace in Baltimore.  Her poetry has appeared in Iron Horse Literary Review and 32 Poems.



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