I always carried my emergency dime.
A phone call was 10 cents back then.
My dad would ask me if I had it on me.
It would be in a tiny purse or pocket,
in place of a penny in my loafer,
or chained to a belt loop in one of those plastic coin purses
that smelled so good I’d walk around with my nose in it.
My emergency dime had supernatural powers;
I could call from anywhere on the planet
and get my dad to come and rescue me.
That’s a lot of insurance for a thin dime.
Pagers and cell phones were unheard of then;
we precariously traveled the world
alone and unlinked, like true adventurers.
Only my lucky dime lay between me and misfortune.
Many times I was tempted to buy a giant gumball,
or a pack of wax pop bottles, Teaberry gum,
SweeTarts, or a roll of Life Savers,
but at the last second I’d change my mind;
some secret power made me keep my emergency dime.
Then I got older and it turned into an emergency quarter.
I always had one tucked away somewhere,
even though my father was dead and gone.
I can’t count the times I wanted to call him
when I was lost, alone, and downtrodden -
that would’ve been a lot of quarters.
But still, the thought that you once had a human
lucky charm, a get out of jail free card,
someone who’d claim you, no matter how far you wandered
or what kind of jam or pickle you were in,
and who was just a call away…
well, that’s something to write a poem about.
(c) 2008 Marissa Dodge