No-one writes odes to money
yet what a thrill it was.
We did our jobs all week
feeding the chooks, setting the table
washing dishes, collecting eggs—
paid on Friday with a shilling
called pocket money
for birthday gifts and Christmas gifts
and the church collection plate.
(We got smart with home-made presents
drawing many a picture and
embroidering many a hanky.)
Threepence went in our school bank books
and threepence every week in Lent
into the yellow missionary box.
For our three big items
(watch, racket and bike)
we picked raspberries in the sun
for threepence a pound.
Deirdre starred at the Hinds gymkhana
winning a guinea for finding Kilroy:
that wasn’t unethical, wasn’t a raffle or a racket
but a competition, a different kind of work.
How solid were those pennies
how textured under the thumb
how lordly were the shillings
how odd the chopped-off head of a King
how satisfied we were with you
We had the wittiest jokes about money
phoning total strangers, “Are you on the Papanui line?
Then get off! There’s a penny on the line!”
Giggle giggle giggle at the triple trick
from naughty little Penny.
Party lines, tramlines — money jokes
don’t stand the test of time
and nobody writes poems for you, o money.
Money, you made us proud
and generous and careful.
We liked you very much.
We worked together
and you did no harm.
Poem and drawing by Rachel McAlpine, CC BY 2.0. That means I’d like you to share them, as long as my name is attached.