The afternoon of my mother's wake I bought a Stetson at a pawn shop. It hung next to a stringless guitar. It hung, covered in the invisible dust of money hungry pain. It hung on a tarnished brass hook. I paid five dollars to a man with an orange-striped shirt. I don't remember his face.
I placed the hat on the passenger seat of my car. A Stetson. Black. The oiled pitch of movie malevolence. The hat wore a woven leather band decorated with an engraved silver charm. Two sizes larger than my head. Grade thirty X, the Rolls Royce of fox fur sculpture.
Hey you, I said to the hat. My mom died.
The hat made sympathetic noises. The hat expressed displeasure at the change of schedule.
After the funeral I placed the hat on my bed's extra pillow, the space I saved for a lover. The hat took root. I felt it push tendrils through the green satin, through duck down, through layers of coiled springs and metal frame. I felt it push into the oak floorboards, into the crawl space, into the ground rich with uranium and feldspar. I fueled the germination with my fingers. I traced the spiral galaxy etched into silver. I brushed the hat with care, sprayed it with rain repellent. I loved the hat, loved the way it smelled like roadtrip ozone.
I told the hat stories at night, stories about my day, about my children. I told the hat it was much more than a five dollar whim. Sometimes the hat listened. Sometimes it didn't. The hat's roots pulled memory from the underworld, a place not-yet-separated from its prior owner. The hat kept one upturned side-brim touching my sheets, but the other side sunk into the pillowcase.
My wrists weren't strong enough to pull the hat from the bed. One day I went in search of a shovel to transplant it to a more suitable environment, but I got sidetracked by my father/kids/dog/work.
We're dying, they said. Leave that damn hat alone and attend to us.
I did. The hat understood. The hat was not happy. I asked the hat for help but it sat still. I asked the hat to rub my back, to cook me dinner, to tell me funny jokes. The hat would not budge.
After a while I slept with my back to the hat. I wore old sweats to bed instead of frilly lingerie. I wanted the hat to notice that I was lonely. The hat did not. It remembered the pawn shop. It remembered its old life. It remembered the five dollars. It pointed a brim finger at me. It told me I made the roots stronger.
I grabbed a shotgun and shot in the air above the hat.
Get out of my bed you mean old lazy crummy hat! I yelled. I didn't mean it. I wanted the hat to protest. The hat fell to the floor. It sat there for two days.
I packed the hat in a box yesterday. I wrapped it in plastic. I stuck stamps on the side of the box. I stuffed an old beadspread in the hole left by the roots. I slept alone.
Monday, June 26, 2006
I haven't been around in forever. I want to be around! But I've been immersed in grief for months and I am just pulling out of it now. I haven't written poetry in months, too. This is my first attempt. I'm just sorting through things.
Posted by Birdie at 6/26/2006 02:52:00 PM