Black Velvet Hat
by Lesley Quayle

You were the poet who lived
in Muswell Hill, back in the day
when I was the girl in a black velvet
hat with a red rose pinned to the brim.

You wrote a song for me,
about my long hair swinging
and my long legs, tanned by summer sun,
and my velvet hat with a rose pinned to the brim.

You sang it, a whisper of tobacco
on your voice. Everyone stopped
and held their breath. “For her,” you said.
“The girl in the hat with a red rose pinned to the brim.”

I loved the guitarist, whose eyes unsettled
my seventeen year old heart, whose beautiful
hands were like wings, who didn’t write poems
or songs. I gave him the red rose pinned to my hat.

I broke your heart and afterwards
you sent me a postcard scribbled all over
in felt-tip pen — “I loved you.
You gave him the rose so I stole your hat.”

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem after seeing a hat in a charity shop exactly like the one mentioned in the poem that I’d owned all those years ago. It sparked the memory. (I married the guitarist and I never saw the boy who wrote the song again — or my hat.)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lesley Quayle is a prizewinning poet and a folk blues singer. A former editor of Leeds based poetry journal Aireings, she was a winner of the BBC Wildlife Magazine Poet of the Year and also the Trewithen Prize and her poem, “Termination,” was nominated for a Forward single poem award. Her work has appeared in The Rialto, The North, Tears in the Fence, Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Interpreter’s House, among others and she has read on BBC Radio 4, local radio and appeared at The West Yorkshire Playhouse. She has a pamphlet, Songs For Lesser Gods  (erbacce), and a collection, Sessions  (Indigo Dreams), and is currently working on a new collection, as yet untitled, and a novel.