penny jar

by Ingrid Jendrzejewski

i remember or think i remember or think i once saw a photograph or
something, i’m not sure, but i’m pretty sure i remember a boy whose
name i know i can’t remember, and we went over to his house, my
parents and me, and i think we were meant to play together, me and
this boy, but instead i remember that in his house there was a jar, a
giant jar, a jar almost as big as me, or no, much larger actually—it
was such a jar, and in this jar there were pennies, so many pennies
and who knows how many, but in my mind i can see them clearly,
so many pennies in this huge jar, so many pennies but still nowhere
near enough to fill the jar, this enormous jar, and there were so many
pennies so far down inside that i wouldn’t be able to reach them if i
stood on a chair and stuck my whole arm inside the jar, and it was so
surprising, these pennies, this jar, this strange boy’s house, this boy’s
strange house, this boy who was meant to play with me, who i was
meant to play with, this boy who i’m not sure i remember, and my
parents gone, maybe talking to the boy’s parents in another room,
maybe somewhere else entirely, and all these all these all these all
these pennies, these unreachable pennies in this huge, huge jar, an
impossible number, an impossible size, and although there was this
boy my age, someone who was supposed to play with me, someone
who i was supposed to play with, i found i couldn’t look away from
this jar, i couldn’t move because my head was filled trying to imagine
a number large enough to describe all the pennies, that impossible
number of pennies, so huge yet still not even beginning to fill that gigantic
jar, that jar of impossible size—and well, from then on to now,
well, to this moment, well, it makes my head spin whenever i think
about it and now that i’m a little older, i only wish that boy was still
in that house, that his house was still there just as it was, so i could
go back to visit him and look at that jar, look at it just once more, look
at those pennies which must have piled higher now, but which surely
i’m sure haven’t come near filling that jar, because if i could go back
there and just stick my head inside the mouth of that cold, clear glass
and breathe in, i’m pretty sure i’d be able to maybe understand a little
something, a little something more about what my parents call god.