Neruda’s Hat

By Kelli Russell Agodon

Previously published in Small Knots (Cherry Grove Collections, 2004)

On a day when weather stole every breeze,
Pablo told her he kept bits of his poems
tucked behind the band in his hat.

He opened the windows to nothing
but more heat, asked her to wander with him
down to the beach, see if their bodies
could become waves.

When they returned he placed his hat,
open to sky, in the center of the table.
She filled it with papaya, figs, searched
for scraps of poems beneath the lining.

By evening, the hat was empty
and his typewriter, full
with pages that began something about ocean,
something about fruit.

And they didn’t notice the sky, full of tomorrow’s
stars or the blue and white swallow
carrying paper in its beak.

They sat outside until the edge of daylight
stretched itself across a new band of morning,
a shadow of a hat washing onto the shore.