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.

The Hat

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.


didi said...

Hi birdie - sometimes it is best to let the sun burn your nose and the rain drench your hair just so you remember what it feels like.


Birdie said...

thanks, d. I know you're right. I'm putting the grief away now. It's time. I'm taking some time for fun, too. My computer died so I'm on my boys' 7-year-old machine at the moment. It died when my grief died. Funny how all of existence connects itself. Today I'm taking my boys camping in the desert. xoxoxoxo to you. Lots of love. I miss participating in life.

Pris said...

this is beautiful. i wish i'd had your poem around to read when my own mother died. it would've been a big comfort. you say it all so well. we've missed you. i've missed you.