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 is the author of The Audible and the Evident (Ohio University Press, February 2020), winner of the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize, and Unbeknownst (University of Iowa Press, 2011), winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize and finalist for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. She received fellowships from the NEA and Vermont Studio Center and has poems recently or forthcoming in Under a Warm Green Linden, failbetterPlume, Bat City ReviewThe Literary 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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