Panning for Gold

A child panning my own pie tin,

waiting for the water to clear, the sand at the bottom

clean to glimmer in the sun,

waiting for the first glimmer,

which doesn't always come as the water clears

and then I know I don't have any gold,

but every once in a while I see a glimmer

just a glint at the bottom of the pie tin,

slowly teasing my pulse as the sun moves.

I see a glint of something tiny and shiny

under the water almost hidden by the sand.

I've panned many streams.

Dad coming down the stream toward me.

Sun so white, his body a black silhouette growing larger.

He picks up my pie tin and swirls the water,

looks at me and shakes his head,

''this ain't gold, this is iron pyrite,''

and empties the pie tin into the stream.

I follow him back to his wooden sluice box,

a box I helped him build,

as he tells me again the difference.

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