A Citizen

I wanted to be seen. But who would see me? I couldn’t
think of the name for anything but a flower. The government
makes coins that size and shape so your hand can feel
safe holding them. The pictures stamped remind
us where we are, or how the landscape
we live in connects itself, through common value,
to a different place. On this one, a spinnaker
sails past a bridge. On that, a diamond shines like a child’s
stilled top over a bird, as if the diamond made the natural
world — bird, forest, state flower, sheaf of healthy corn, shining
water — out of proportion in relation to itself. I love this. My own state
has a bear, so small and out of proportion to me that my life-
line can cross behind it. At last I do not fear
that but feel proud the animal can sit in my palm so silently
until I spend it. And if I lose it, then it becomes
even more quiet. Most still just have an eagle,
so it is as if 30 eagles were passed over
from one hand to another when the one
charged with arranging things for his Savior’s dinner
arranged his Savior’s death. Heavier the yoke
of heat in solitude. A walk uphill does not
feel manageable. Who will see me?

More Poems by Katie Peterson