Currency Exchange



Half a stairwell
small, cramped
behind bullet proof
glass, the attendant
isn’t confined
by her office in a wall.

She’s been most places—
by portage, maybe
horseback or hike—
people tell her.
Folded, her hands—
once hennaed,
scratched bouldering,
cleansed by onsen,
the Ganges and hot springs—
rest on the counter
as people pronounce cities, islands
thinking she wouldn’t recognize,
couldn’t, working in this hole
in the mall. She doesn't
correct them, lets cruisers
resort to talk at her
while she counts foreign dollars.

But I listen. Catch her wit,
get suggestions, cautions
from a traveller,
not just a mother, who’s lived
in the world, its inner cities,
let her hair go
grey, young
after a second buzz.
Her advice is sage
from what she’s picked up,
as comfortable visiting
ambries or seasides,
with strangers or relations.

She slides more than cash
through the open wicket
with warm trip wishes.

This work was selected by Edmonton International Airport as part of a local creative writing initiative.

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