The Hat of Many Colors
by Derek Kannemeyer
Or the other hat, the Hat of Many Colors,
because of all my hats ever it’s my favorite,
and why I think of it fourth when I hear hat—
after the school cap Paul Smith liked to snatch
from me, and toss into a tree—after the flat cap
I topped my afro with in college, nesting it high
in my tree of hair because this time it was my idea—
after the Dada hat, just a battered top hat, really,
but in grad school I conducted a Dada play in it—
well, I can’t imagine. Because of all my hats ever,
even the other hats you’ve made me, it’s my favorite.
But an afterthought, now, because there’s no story to it?
Since it’s only another hat you’ve knit to say you love me?
In its colors of ice cream and of carnival, its cherry red
ribbings and checkerboards, from the lilac fringe of it
to its rose gold sunburst crown. It’s like one of those
goofball jigs we’ll dance when, for once, our world
goes right, and we’re home where we should be,
in this privacy of our four arms—that’s all—
hearts flowering, or hatching, or what
have you, in a tangle of April leaves,
in a skein of wild, ordinary sky.
AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: In my hat, in my old classroom, St. Catherine’s School, (Richmond, Virginia, 2013)
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: As an actor, I was once proclaimed the biggest ham in the cast, the trophy being a yellow rain hat; as a school group chaperone, I was hooted at by some random Parisians as the leader of “Le Bonnet Club” (we’d all just bought berets); each Christmas, I wear a hat in the shape of a spruce tree hung with lights and Christmas presents. The cowboy outfit, the zip trek helmet, the Martiniquais straw hat—when, in fact, aren’t I in a hat? Most of them with some cool story. But much as I love to tell stories, this was clearly the hat. I hope that the poem and photo say why.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Derek Kannemeyer lives and teaches in Richmond, Virginia. His work has appeared in a wide range of online and print publications, including other series from Silver Birch Press.
AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: In yet another of Sally’s hats (Winter 2016).