Author’s Note: Especially at tax time, I like to consider the Church and State economies I grew up in. The Gospel says to give to Caesar the coin that bears his image. As a fundraiser, the Church has mailed out gold-colored coins bearing the image of a wide-winged angel. In the poem, I’m playing with the several meanings of saving and accounting, guilt and relief, worth and impression. What balances a budget? How much depends on the flip of a coin?
Tax time, only two solids on the spectrum:
black and red. Gold glints in the periphery,
spectral. You think it might be dollar coins
edging from the stash hidden from burglars,
the IRS. No, it’s the light cache of medals
mailed by Catholic Relief, guilt-raising funds.
Flip them and you’ll see: On both sides of each,
an extraordinary angel, from a ledger you dare
not call worthless or unaccountable, is impressed.
Jeanine Hathaway is professor emerita of English at Wichita State University and a former mentor in the Seattle Pacific University MFA Creative Writing Program. She is the author of the novel, Motherhouse (NY: Hyperion, 1992), The Self as Constellation (UNT, 2002), winner of the 2001Vassar Miller Poetry Prize, the chapbook The Ex-Nun Poems (Finishing Line Press, 2011), and Long after Lauds (Slant Books, 2019) winner of a 2020 Catholic Book Award for Poetry.
Delmarva Review selects the best of new poetry, fiction, and nonfiction from submissions during the year. Designed to encourage outstanding writing from authors everywhere, the literary journal is a nonprofit and independent publication. Support comes from tax-deductible contributions and a grant from Talbot Arts with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council. Website: www.DelmarvaReview.org