The old man who sold hats,

with a thousand lines per square inch

connecting the vast regions of his face,

might have come, we used to think,

from another planet, or at least

from another time on Earth. 


First of all, we couldn't understand his words,

although people said he spoke our language.

It was a trick, like doubletalk,

nodding and grinning, two sets of eyes,

one set focused on something far away

that none of us could ever hope to see. 


He seemed to be surrounded by a nimbus,

a color never seen in comic books,

and in the trail of the glow a sound

like music gently pursued him.

Each of his teeth was a tiny statue,

one made of gold, all the rest ivory. 


During the year of the autumn flood

the old man disappeared, swallowed,

someone said, by a giant carp.

The little stand on Main Street

where he sold his hats was left alone,

shrinelike in its emptiness;

and as people passed they often stopped

to look and even, unaware, to slightly bow. 


All images and text copyrighted.  All rights reserved.    Copyright 2002 David Wiley.