Compulsion

I empty my coin-purse, sort them in piles

place them parallel to the edge;

coppers left to right, then silver,

lastly one pound, two pounds. Next,

I count them. Satisfied, I file them

in jeans’ pockets, one pees left, two pees right.

I have a useful coat, two pockets,

five pees left, ten pees right,

remainder back in coin purse. Wallet

holds the paper. Every note

is facing the same way; twenties at the back,

fives in front, the tens between.

At supermarket till, I count

exactly, slowly, slowly, while the line

snakes surely past the offers, lotto,

magazines, confections, freezers, wine.

Store card fumbled, vouchers, life-bags,

careful packing. No receipts, please.

Shoppers shuffle gladly forwards

flashing payment cards – contactless;

no hands soiled with filthy lucre.

Back at home, begin again;

the coppers to the left, then silver

to the right, and counting. Then, I wonder

whether daughter’s purse has coins

I may exchange for those of greater value?

First published in Sarsvati

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