Little Hat

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Forty years in a round box, a nest of tissue paper,
magenta velvet toque, your tasteful feather
a moiré of navy and green, your finely knotted veil
folded and draped just so, little hat, you were more
the idea of hat than hat—actual, functional—
your function to wait in the box for occasion,
your emergence to confirm occasion
for anyone who would notice your lustrous silk-velvet,
your grosgrain hatband with its two gold-toothed combs.
Little hat, how is it possible there was ever such skill,
such time? How, in those years, that century, did you
exact such care? Little hat, satin lining, lingering
scent of lavender, what if there was ever only so much
tenderness in the world, if there is so much tenderness
but no more? What if there is no tenderness to spare,
not one thread, one stitch?

Suzanne Cleary is the author of Keeping Time (2002). Her new collection, Trick Pear, will be published next year.
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