Hungry for more mystery novels,
I waited like an ambush predator
ready to pounce upon 2 pm
when the public library opens.
Two silver-colored coins of copper and nickel
donated additional light to the lawn,
each worth a quarter dollar.
Fifty cents equals ten minutes in the dryer at the laundromat
or 30 at the insatiable parking meter by the hardware store.

Time itself is not legal tender
but coins are minutes…
And free money
–like the lottery or an unexpected inheritance–
always corrects an injustice of some sort.

Regardless I let the coins be.
Town talk insisted
that the elderly couple at the corner
refuse charity from their wealthy “washashore” neighbors.
Instead they accept canned goods from the church’s food pantry.

Imagine the bidding war
if those cash-poor “natives”
put their craftsman’s cottage
–with all the original fixtures and built-ins!–
on the market!

At 2:30 I noticed that the couple had arrived
and quickly found time
to take turns reading aloud to each other,
choosing a large-print book
from the stack of newly-arrived washashore novels,
trying but failing to keep their voices down.
I caught the librarians exchanging looks of concern at 2:45;
I probably stared at them too long myself.

Surely an elder is not an outsourced stonemason
in a piney destination recommended annually
by the Travel Section of the Times.
Not everyone craves
the palm trees and mangroves of Florida
— or can afford relocating to Costa Rica —
upon retirement.
And it is rude
to gape like a landed fish.

At 8 pm we seared fresh tuna
(caught by local spear fishers)
on the grill.
A brazen, mangy fox approached us.
Their population has grown
ever since the coyotes have been hunted
and though I know that foxes are omnivores
I worry there are too few rodents
left for the kits to pounce upon.

All the conservationists insist
do not feed the wildlife
but it is not easy
to avert hunger’s eagle eye.


Edward Miller

Edward Miller

Edward D. Miller is Professor of Media Culture at the College of Staten Island and on the faculty of the programs in Theatre and Film at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His creative works appear in Counterexample Poetics, Hinchas de Poesia, Wilderness House Literary Journal, The Boston Literary Magazine, Crack the Spine, Red Fez, Drunk Monkeys, Bloodstone Review, Handsy, and The Bangalore Review.