I forgot if it’s called a hay or wheat penny

I was sitting in the coffee shop on campus, around 2003, and talking to a girl I knew from class. I was the editor of the university’s poetry magazine, she was a contributor and occasional open-mic volunteer. After we has sat and talked briefly about whatever small things I would have talked about back then, she asked me what my room looked like. I thought it an odd question and did my best to tell her of black walls covered with chalk scrawls and old christmas lights, a floor strewn with detritus, unwashed clothes, and a TV which tilted slightly left. I told her I found one of those old pennies under my mattress once. “A wheat penny… or maybe it’s hay penny, I forget what it’s called.” She half laughed and told me that she imagined my room as being made of paper: bookshelves brimming, notebooks thrown about, and a floor littered with papers covered in scribblings later to be made into poetry. In my mind I kicked a pair of socks off the book I kept submissions in, and said that her idea of me was much more interesting than the real thing.

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