Math might be the universal language,
money an extension—I need that.
I give you this.
Unfold paper bills.
Elaborate etched history in brilliant
inks: green, purple, fuschia.
Handful of coins from stops
on the way—beautifully carved
horses, the heads of kings.
Hand the clerk a bill worth 50 crowns.
He wants easier change.
Give him coins from Iceland,
a bouquet of herring on the reverse,
an elegant exchange for a fish dinner
in a confusion of currency.
No, he says, in English. Search purse,
empty contents, offer it up—
he picks what he needs.