They pitch them to you on the job:

U.S Treasury Savings Bonds—

tiny bites from your paychecks

you won’t even notice,

a sound investment in your country,

plus a locked-in return after thirty years—

but they’re really hoping you’ll die

first, leaving those Series EEs unclaimed,

the original paper kind they don’t make anymore.

Or maybe it will slip your senescent mind

that they’re waiting in the metal mouth

of the safe deposit box, inching toward maturity

and oblivious to the passage of time,

keeping company with your birth certificate,

the title to the car you rarely drive

and the deed to the falling-down house

you’ve paid off.

Now it’s winter of the thirtieth year,

who would have thought,

so you bundle up and go to the bank

where everyone wears a mask and the P.A. system

plays “Jingle Bells” over and over.

From the sealed envelope

you retrieve those pristine bonds

still holding their deferred promise of profit

and you hold them to it. Though

unrecognizable, even to yourself,

as being the one who bought them,

you cash them in.


Ruth Holzer

Ruth Holzer is the author of eight chapbooks, most recently, “Living in Laconia” (Gyroscope Press) and “Among the Missing” (Kelsay Books). Her poems have appeared in Blue Unicorn, Faultline, Slant, Poet Lore, Connecticut River Review and Plainsongs, among other journals and anthologies. She has received several Pushcart Prize nominations.

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