me-with-a-hat
Conversations with My Hat
by Neil Creighton

When I’m off adventuring
first thing I throw in my pack is my hat.
Great for shade. Foreign legion style.
We’ve seen some great places together
and that hat has taught me a thing or two.

We’re hiking in New Zealand,
Queen Charlotte Sound, Ship’s Cove.
My hat says, “You know Captain Cook was here.”

“Was he?” I say.

“Yep. Repairs to his ship.
Two of his men got cannibalised
just a little way down there.”

“Seriously,” I say.
“What did Cook do?”

“He didn’t do anything.
Wouldn’t let his men do anything either.
So the men caught one of the native dogs,
put it on trial, found it guilty,
and then ate it.”

“What. Why?”

“Proxy,” says my hat.
“They were satisfied with that.”

There’s no doubt you can learn
a thing or two from under that hat.

Get some good advice too.
We’re hiking the Overland Track,
right along the mountainous spine of Tasmania.
It’s blowing a blizzard with vicious horizontal sleet.
“Mate,” my hat says, “can you get your beanie out?
It’s freezing up here. I’m made for sun.”
Sure enough, that hat was right.

Our last adventure together was a long walk,
the Cape to Cape in Western Australia.
After we’ve finished the eight days,
I’m sitting at the lighthouse cafe, having a coffee,
my hat on the table, and I hear a voice.
“Mate, that was great. Humpback whales breaching,
wildflowers and birds everywhere,
that towering Karri forest,
beaches and headland, limestone cliffs and caves,
mile after mile of beautiful coastline.”

“Yep, sure was,” I say. “A privilege.”

“The world is so beautiful,” says the voice.
“How come you humans don’t value it more?”

“Hat,” I say, “I’ve got no idea.”

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: With my hat and wife Diana (far left) in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, Australia.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’ve just returned from a 135 km walk in Western Australia, the Cape to Cape (Cape Leeuwin to Cape Naturaliste). I was never without my hat.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Neil Creighton is an Australian poet with a passion for social justice, a love of people and the natural world. His work as a teacher of Drama and English made him intensely aware of how opportunity is so unequally proportioned. In addition to Silver Birch Press, his recent publications include Prosopisia, Poetry Quarterly, Praxis Online Mag,  Social Justice Poetry, Whispers in the Wind, and Verse-Virtual, where he is a contributing editor. He blogs at windofflowers.blogspot.com.au.