She had given me the hat as a peace offering
during one of our
to learn to like one another
It was one of those paperboy hats,
that looked good sitting catawampus
on my head.
I did everything in that hat,
and I was in such a good mood
that I even painted the yellowed kitchen ceiling
a nice soft white.
But the counseling didn’t take,
and I slept on the living room floor for three years.
Along the way my hat vanished
and I thought about it all the time.
One day I needed to borrow something,
I don’t recall what,
from the guy next door,
and to my amazement,
here he comes,
wearing my hat.
I was stunned and delighted.
Something that made sense.
“Man! That’s where my hat went!” I said,
relieved of the obsession
of wondering what the hell
I had done with it.
But my neighbor was instantly belligerent.
“This is not your hat.
This is my hat.
This hat was a gift, man!”
For a moment I thought about straightening him out,
but saw that it would be pointless,
so I walked away, keeping at bay something like
raging wounded liberation and massive silence,
never mentioning until now,
the afternoon I found my hat,
that stubborn spot of white paint
still on the brim.
Author’s Comment: The Hat is rather like the last bit of punctuation in a story about a crumbling marriage. When I finally “find” my hat the rest of my life is in a shambles. The line raging wounded liberation and massive silence tries to capture that fact – there is no point in making an issue of the hat, because it just does not matter anymore. So…the “wound” rages….the “liberation” rages…but the “silence” is massive, because by that point there is nothing left to say.
Bio: John L. Stanizzi’s books are Ecstasy Among Ghosts and Sleepwalking. Besides Wild Goose Poetry Review, his poems have appeared in The New York Quarterly, Tar River Poetry, Rattle, Freshwater, Passages North, The Spoon River Quarterly, Poet Lore, The Connecticut River Review, Stone Country, Hawk & Handsaw, Gutter Eloquence, SNReview, and many others. In 1998, Mr. Stanizzi was named The New England Poet of the Year by The New England Association of Teachers of English. His newest book, Dance Against the Wall, will be out later this year.
“Catawampus” is a great word, and the “stubborn spot of white paint” is the perfect ending–working both literally and metaphorically.