More than Metaphor
by Susana H. Case

My father, his tears dropping
onto the dresses in her closet
as we selected my mother’s
burial clothes,
the man I had never seen cry.
Stooped, wracked man,
blinded by macular.
This one? I asked, holding each close
to his face. This?
He was the wound and I was the balm.

The break in his heart, a ballooning
ventricle shaped like an octopus trap.
I can’t remember
what we decided for her, most likely
something in black and white,
her favorite color combination.
He died exactly six months after.

I kept her feathered hat.
It works only as costume
with this life
in which I’ve scratched my orphaned way.
Made of birds shot by plume hunters
in spring, when colors
were most vivid.
They left behind bereft partners
and chicks, as parents do,
became a cespitose pile of feathers,
in those hat-years,
exist only as memory
worth more than its weight in gold.

PHOTO: Author with Feathered Hat

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’ve only worn the hat in the poem a few times in the last 23 years. It’s hard to find the right occasion and there’s a certain political incorrectness to using feathers in this way, given what we know now. But when I have worn it, I’m very aware of it, very aware of my mother, who definitely had an affinity for hats.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susana H. Case’s newest and fourth poetry book is 4 Rms w Vu (Mayapple Press, 2014). Author of  four chapbooks, including The Scottish Café which was re-released in a Polish-English version, Kawiarnia Szkocka, by Opole University Press in Poland, and re-released in its original version by Slapering Hol Press. She is a Professor and Program Coordinator at the New York Institute of Technology.