lortis
What More Could One Ask of a Hat
by Bernadine Lortis

Black as a midnight cat though a bit faded now,
in daylight the droop of its brim tries
to guard me so sun cannot harm me. It’s
my own Galahad, keeping wrinkles
at bay as I garden or walk the beach tanning—
it’s a multi-tasking topper.

It covers my cowlicks so I can meet
others on bad-hair days or in rain;
if I need a small basket and none is around,
it offers to gather ripe berries and beans
yet no complaint heard when it’s washed out in COLD.
A wash-and-wear wonder, it launders so
well. It’s a utilitarian gem.

Flopsy and mopsy—a little too large—
there’s a cord to adjust but I do so
adore the extra allowance that sets
the brim dipping and surfing like a ship
on the ocean and with big sunglasses
I could, if I wished to, be Greta Garbo.

Not that I do, not as a rule, but if
I did—want to be left all alone*—I’d
choose for my lipstick a tomato red,
drop the rim just a bit and you’d only hear
staccato-staccato of mules as I’d
become a shadowy creature that slinks.
I’d go incognito that way.

I’d pass by all neighbors and good friends alike
for they wouldn’t recognize doubles or
my double chin starting to wobble like
Jell-O beneath its wide brim and even
‟007” would be in trouble
should I decide to hide from his private eye.

My hat and I—so simpatico—
it goes anywhere, fits in everywhere.
I fold it in half, unpack, and Voilà!
not a crease on its face so it goes along
to countless metropolises and towns
in America’s heartlands and coasts.

When I travel abroad to countries like
Luxembourg, Holland and France or on to
Germany, England, Turkey or far-off
Japan, I can count on its grace as it
shields from noon heat in mountains of Andes:
Machu Pichu, Peru and in Quito, likewise,
it is fitting attire for me.

If this were the sixties, some would call
my hat neato or nifty. Once it was
hot; now cool or awesome will do and
since the calendar turned 2000
and more, it is old, antique or retro.
Me? Oh, I still call it Magnifico!

*Famous quote from Greta Garbo: “I never said, ‘I want to be alone.’ I only said ‘I want to be left alone!’ There is all the difference.”

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Photo was taken as I stopped to admire raspberries still producing in my garden during our exceptionally warm, record-breaking November weather in Minnesota .

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I put on my hat to get a tactile, physical presence but that didn’t help. I had to take it off my head to get into my head. My first attempt was in prose which turned out to be boring. One night I woke up with the poem sounding a sort of syncopated Latin beat: “staccato, staccato—tomato, tomato” but sadly couldn’t sustain it. However, my third attempt kept some of it because a lot of O’s reappeared as I wrote so I took advantage of what was happening. Since the guidelines asked that it be true to life—a real hat and a real experience—and because I found my hat to be the most useful on trips, I had to choose among many places I was actually fortunate enough to visit.  As I write poems many want to tell a story so they end up a combination of truth and imagination, and inanimate objects often take on human characteristics. This one is no exception. It ended up to be a fun poem to write.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: An avid reader, gardener, and dabbler in watercolor, Bernadine has written secretly and sporadically for years. Her degrees in Art and Education were occupationally driven. She lives and writes in St. Paul, Minnesota, with her husband of 45 years where she finds inspiration all around her. Creative nonfiction and poetry have been submitted and published this year, 2016, in Stirring: A Literary Collection, Mused-Bella Online, Silver Birch Press, Mothers Always Write, and The Afterlife of Discarded Objects.