Exchanging Hats Poem by Elizabeth Bishop

Exchanging Hats

Rating: 3.2

Unfunny uncles who insist
in trying on a lady's hat,
--oh, even if the joke falls flat,
we share your slight transvestite twist

in spite of our embarrassment.
Costume and custom are complex.
The headgear of the other sex
inspires us to experiment.

Anandrous aunts, who, at the beach
with paper plates upon your laps,
keep putting on the yachtsmen's caps
with exhibitionistic screech,

the visors hanging o'er the ear
so that the golden anchors drag,
--the tides of fashion never lag.
Such caps may not be worn next year.

Or you who don the paper plate
itself, and put some grapes upon it,
or sport the Indian's feather bonnet,
--perversities may aggravate

the natural madness of the hatter.
And if the opera hats collapse
and crowns grow draughty, then, perhaps,
he thinks what might a miter matter?

Unfunny uncle, you who wore a
hat too big, or one too many,
tell us, can't you, are there any
stars inside your black fedora?

Aunt exemplary and slim,
with avernal eyes, we wonder
what slow changes they see under
their vast, shady, turned-down brim.

Michael Morgan 03 August 2016

runs on the gentle, non-vindictive criticism that typifies Bishop's poetry. Assembles images to illustrate her abstractions in a painterly way. MM

4 2 Reply
Ratnakar Mandlik 03 August 2016

A beautifully crafted lovely poem inked in lighter vein and full of amusement. Thanks for sharing.

3 2 Reply
Edward Kofi Louis 03 August 2016

The golden anchors! ! Nice work.

2 2 Reply
Stephen W 03 August 2016

An odd, but interesting poem.

3 2 Reply
Elizabeth Bishop

Elizabeth Bishop

Worcester, Massachusetts
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