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once upon a time

your Tilley hat
sat on the chair
in the cabin porch
where you left it
before you went home
to the city
to die

a rakish hat
with a gull feather
tucked in its sweat band
of the ritual
beach walks
we would take

once upon a time
before the walking stopped

your Tilley hat
so empty now
that I cannot bear to see it
and remember
what it represents
the walks
the gulls
the lake
your face brimming a smile
under the Tilley brim
your hands and heart
in touch with mine

once upon a time
before the touching stopped

you didn’t know that you would not be back
and now
your spirit lingers
when I pluck the hat
from its resting place
set it on my head
and finger the brim as you would do

once upon a time

By Joan Baragar