Hats Poem by Sandra Alcosser


Rating: 4.1

Auntie lies in the rest home with a feeding tube and a bedpan, she
weighs nothing, she fidgets and shakes, and all I can see are her
knotted hands and the carbon facets of her eyes, she was famous for her
pies and her kindness to neighbors, but if it is true that every hat
exhibits a drama the psyche wishes it could perform, what was my aunt
saying all the years of my childhood when she squeezed into cars with
those too tall hats, those pineapples and colored cockades, my aunt who
told me I should travel slowly or I would see too much before I died,
wore spires and steeples, tulled toques. The velvet inkpots of
Schiaparelli, the mousseline de soie of Lilly Daché have
disappeared into the world, leaving behind one flesh-colored box, Worth
stenciled on the top, a coral velvet cloche inside with matching veil
and drawstring bag, and what am I to make of these Dolores del Rio size
4 black satin wedgies with constellations of spangles on the bridge.
Before she climbed into the white boat of the nursing home and sailed
away--talking every day to family in heaven, calling them through the
sprinkling system--my aunt said she was pushing her cart through the
grocery when she saw young girls at the end of an aisle pointing at her,
her dowager's hump, her familial tremors. Auntie, who claimed that
ninety pounds was her fighting weight, carried her head high, hooded,
turbaned, jeweled, her neck straight under pounds of roots and
vegetables that shimmied when she walked. Surely this is not the place
of women in our world, that when we are old and curled like crustaceans,
young girls will laugh at us, point their fingers, run as fast as they
can in the opposite direction.

Patricia Saunders 31 January 2014

This is a remarkably tender poem about auntie, of the Schaparelli hats and blood-red rings. I can see her before me now. Very fine poem.

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