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Coin of the realm

“Nickels!” The girl with suspenders
and an Aussie drawl is tickled.
“That’s so cute. You really
call them nickels.” She slides
her handful of change freely

into the tip jar, cutely labelled
“For our counter intelligence.”
Nickels lying on their little beaver
backs. There’s something, well,
endearing about a country

where one coin’s called a “loonie”
while its next-in-line big brother
is a “toonie.” Like we’ve all
been drawn as characters
in furry ears by Warner Brothers.

Even beavers have a Disney
air — our founding rodent, naive
buck-toothed precursor of the Mounties.
Boy-scout respectability.
Beavers even stood for chastity —

compilers of old bestiaries
believed they had the habit
of biting off their testicles.
Surprising we had any left
to put on nickels.

Still, credit where it’s due —
the beaver coined a basic
national characteristic:
the stubborn re-building
of dams. We keep trying

to hold back the inevitable
and keep our small pond separate.
We chew with animation,
not sure it does much good.
Still, it beats emasculation.

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