The Picture Hat
by Sarah Russell

In 1968, the day I got my first paycheck after the divorce (one buck more than minimum wage), I bought a picture hat — pink organza with silk flowers, better suited to Churchill Downs than Grand Rapids, Michigan — because it was My Money, and it looked good on me.  I put it on with jeans and my favorite too-big shirt and sashayed through my bare bones studio apartment, pausing in front of the bathroom mirror to smile for the cameras and add lilac eyeshadow and Chanel No. 5.  I pictured my picture hat with an equally pink, equally organza afternoon tea dress and Herbert Levine’s that would fit my feet like Cinderella. My hat never found its dress and shoes, never even saw the light of day, but it was who I was in that moment.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: No photos of the actual hat exist, but this is a first cousin. Isn’t it a beauty?? Photo found at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  I ate peanut butter sandwiches for a month because of my extravagance, but damn, I loved that hat!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sarah Russell has returned to poetry after a career teaching, writing, and editing. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Kentucky Review, Red River Review, Misfit Magazine, Ekphrastic Review, and Silver Birch Press, among others. She was a featured poet on The Houseboat and Days of Stone. Find more poetry at