Carpet of Pennies


Materials: carpet, pennies


This piece is a meditation on personal memory and the many interpretations when reflected from different angles.

Penny Story

Written by my mother

Penny Story is a wooly memory depending on who you ask. The basic details begin with my pre-school age daughter, Michelle, in her bedroom, alone. Cara, Michelle's older sister is also in her own bedroom. I think I had sent them to their rooms--I do not recall why. Michelle places a penny directly behind a night-light. At the exact moment the penny rests on the two prongs of the night light, electricity sparks resulting in burns on Michelle's finger and a nearly melted penny. The unmistakable "electrical buzz" noise that I heard, alerted me that something horribly wrong had taken place. Cara and I run to Michelle who looks dazed and we are all staring at her cartoon blown-up finger. I also remember making a mental note to turn off the electricity because the entire wall area above the outlet was black. A trip to the doctor revealed third degree burns on her finger and a follow-up appointment was scheduled.

Written by me

Somehow, I had gotten in trouble. Mom was on the phone in her bedroom. The master bedroom was blue satin trimmed by lace with a beautiful portrait of Spring framed above the bed. The ironing board was out. The hot iron pressed clean clothes which still smelled of the person to which they belonged. Nearby a vanity table was full of colorfully unorganized goodies. Mom was on the phone which meant, "Do not interrupt me while I am on the phone." I was to stay where I was put: in the hallway on my pink sleeping bag. Since Mom was on the phone, I crawled to Michelle's room to pester her. As a I peeped around the door, I noticed my sister playing with the night light.

"What are you doing?"

"I am putting my token in for the train."

"You can't do that! You'll electrocute yourself!"


I ran back through the hallway to my mother's bedroom. As I desperately tried to tell her what was happening, the lights flickered with the quick sound of electricity. Next thing I knew I was in the bathroom looking for a washcloth. "Go get a washcloth," my frantic mother had said. The only washcloth in the linen closet was my very special one. It was the kind that comes in a coin and when you put it in the water, it turns into a washcloth with a picture on it. "But the only one left is my special one," I yell. No time. No time for that.

Michelle's finger was charred black. The penny on the floor was slightly black, halved.


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