old man who sold hats,
a thousand lines per square inch
the vast regions of his face,
have come, we used to think,
another planet, or at least
another time on Earth.
of all, we couldn't understand his words,
people said he spoke our language.
was a trick, like doubletalk,
and grinning, two sets of eyes,
set focused on something far away
none of us could ever hope to see.
seemed to be surrounded by a nimbus,
color never seen in comic books,
in the trail of the glow a sound
music gently pursued him.
of his teeth was a tiny statue,
made of gold, all the rest ivory.
the year of the autumn flood
old man disappeared, swallowed,
said, by a giant carp.
little stand on Main Street
he sold his hats was left alone,
in its emptiness;
as people passed they often stopped
look and even, unaware, to slightly bow.