Only Hat

By Julie Hanson

Featured Art: The Purple Dress by William Glackens

My sadness has the texture of a dime store balloon;
when I slide my hand across it, I get no pleasure from it.

My sadness has no merit whatsoever.

My sadness is a pose I cannot hold a moment longer, but I must
because I am in yoga class where this pose in particular would be
impossible to do had I understood it in advance,
yet when fed instructions bit by bit while bending back . . .
I can believe I just might get the hands.

My sadness stems from a bottomless blame. It knows
that it doesn’t matter, does it, if the reason is legitimate.

My sadness is lonelier the longer I sit with it.

My sadness comes back to me; it is all my own.

My sadness has three corners, three corners has my hat.
I have chosen this, my sadness, over all available hats.
Firemen hats and nurses’ hats, telephone line
repairmen hats. Military, ski, and Napoleon’s only hat.


Julie Hanson’s collections are The Audible and the Evident, winner of the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize, (Ohio University Press, February 2020) and Unbeknownst (University of Iowa Press, 2011), Iowa Poetry Prize winner and 2012 Kate Tufts Discovery Award finalist. Her poetry has earned fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Vermont Studio Center, recent or forthcoming publication in Plume, Bat City Review, The Literary Review, Cold Mountain Review, and Copper Nickel.

Originally published in NOR 6

 “Only Hat” has since been collected in Unbeknownst by Julie Hanson, © 2011. Reprinted by permission of The University of Iowa Press.

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