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The Theory 0f Hats

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It is hard even to admit this theory of hats, that to wear
The faithless one brimmed tightly over the eyes—
The featherless and discreet one, a hat with a secret code
That says, To spoil the child is to fatten the serpent
To wear that hat (imperfectly as a crow’s crown) against the sun
Is to bear the ruins of the unborn into our hearts—
He, shouting at the brunt of trees;
She, shifting like a seer to restore them.
It is hard to know happiness with a hat like that.
Or to forget the pangs sung with such burly impatience,
Or to heal the blurred things and soft hurts.
Even the blind self becomes a dervish, what with the torsion
And the far-off vita nuova like a new virus or virtuoso,
What with the tussles and old, pure-lit suppressions.
Then to be surprised by joy: Like the last rain of summer,
The big, spiraling, wounded animal of rain
With no place to turn, drumming the brown grass,
Rain falling without meaning, but perfectly faithful,
Into the petals of wind and the unopened roots—
Such tenderness looked to, like love, but unquestioned.
Then some afternoon with the sky lifting off again,
She will come to sit on the porch like a dark sparrow
And let the sun creep slowly onto her hair
And grow old and wonder about the balance of things.
And he beside her, sitting, too, distracted in the sun for hours,
But all the same, both of them, at last, so much warmer.

Source: Poetry (July/August 2008)

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This poem originally appeared in the July/August 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

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The Theory 0f Hats

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