Straw Hat

by Nora

She holds it more, now that age is taking her;
Her fingers stroke the hollows where dried
Flowers have since fallen from the band.
Some nights, she only sits and hums, eyes
Closed with lips around a wordless tune...
The straw lies rough and rumpled on her hands,
Covers callouses on fingers that its snapped and
Splintered edges could never quite sand smooth.

Those nights, she rocks and remembers children—
Not the babes she bore, long flown afield now,
But children as she dreamed them in her youth
When walking to town on Joseph's arm...
How she settled her prize, with its glory of
Ribbon and rosebuds, held fast with her finest
Pin, and thought how proud her someday sons
Would be to claim a ma decked out so fine.

One cracked and crooked crease along the rim
Still whimpers where she crushed it on the day
He left to fight. That day remains; she loses
Others: what day the pale straw lost the scent of
Hay and sunlit lanes, in those years when the
Farm, in city sleet and soldier's pride, was
Never mentioned, and the ghosts of back-closet
Mothballs settled in to haunt her relic.

She holds it more, now that age is taking her:
Smooths rough straw with rougher fingers,
Strokes the stains and creases, thinks of home.
Some nights, when she sits alone by the lamp;
When the scent of burning leaves hangs like a
Shroud outside her window; when her fingers
Trace the weave through time in silence,
She can almost hear the horses and the scythe.

Copyright 2001 by Nora Temkin