Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Trying on Hats

by Cheryl Merrick

My first was a princess crown,
glittering in the glow of indulgent parents,
shining new as I was the first child and grandchild.

I felt I could have been happy with my crown forever,
but one day my crown disappeared.
In its place was a modest dutiful daughter bonnet,
complete with two lists of detailed expectations;
  one from mom and the other from dad.
This hat became increasingly tight and restrictive,
and eventually fell apart due to stress.

I happily wore a mortarboard for many years.
I love to study new things,
but grew anxious to apply my learning.

Finally, I had the opportunity to wear a fragile, long, white veil
as I began my life as a wife.
It didn’t take long to realize that a veil, though romantic,
wasn’t tough enough for a construction site job,
so I traded it in for a practical hard hat,
in pink of course!

Though it was heavy and unwieldy,
I proudly wore my Little Miss Homemaker chapeau.
It was designed for the ever busy woman;
it converted to a sun hat for weeding, a scarf or cleaning,
a chiefs hat for cooking. and a chafers cap.

At the same time I wore my Wondermom diadem.
It’s large gold star flashed brightly,
lighting the way for my children to follow.
I wore it constantly for thirty years; on trips to the library,
picnics, teaching, caring for sick kids, and to programs.

Finally, it came time to put away
my large gold star of full-time mom
and wear a lighter more casual hat,
small but pretty,
of friend to grown children,
and grandmother to their children.

Now who was I?
I tried the fedora of newspaper editor.
The Red Cross cap of refugee sponsor,
The church worker circlet of tiny stars,
The beret of an artist,
The no-nonsense, one size fits all professional teacher
pencil behind the left ear as precisely instructed
(teachers aren’t allowed to wear hats),
The bowler of a business woman,
The family history detective hat,
The inspirer of youth helmet with attached guiding light,
The dark cape and hood of recluse
and the sparkling social hat.

Comfortable in a purple tuban I decorated,
I composed poetry secure behind veils
of Victorian lace and roses.

I donned a serious visor to become Super Secretary
and dripped roses in my large picture hat
as I lovingly sent out notes and cards.

I think I’m tired of trying on hats.
I’d rather feel the sunlight on my face
and feel the breeze in my hair.

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