I wore her hat today.
She tossed it at my bare head
citing resistance to the cold.
I should have smiled,
allowed myself to catch and cuddle
this rare show of affection—
but I turned away instead
and shoved my hair into the wooly packet
tugging it down over my face
to hide my frown.
It enclosed my head, holding tight,
the ear flaps dangling in my periphery.
Was this the way she saw the world?
Framed by the warmth of the black and white stripes?
Did the hat harbor her secrets?
Did it catch her thoughts,
tuck them into the folds and creases
along with the stray strands of bright orange hair?
I closed my eyes and listened.
The air was sharp and cold
and I was glad for the thick protection of the hat
as we trekked up the Butte.
I could only see her back
as she joined the faster members of the group
and even when I caught up
she seemed closed off
lost in the vastness of the mountain
eyes only for the blackness of the hills on the horizon—
her new love.
The hat settled on my head
and whispered that my novelty had worn off.
I picked at the wool in retaliation
but the broody mumbling notions didn’t leave.
I watched her hike up and past the looming folds of hill
journeying to the top with the bravest of the group.
I stayed behind. Her back vanished
and I was alone on the path with the hat
whispering its tiny revelations
mediocre thoughts of disenchantment
that may have belonged to her.
I perched on a rock and took off the hat
pressing my nose into the residual warmth
and smelling the earth and pine she left in her wake.
The orange hairs, curly stowaways, wiggled in the wind
but the whispers persisted.
Maybe she was tired after all.
A few of her hairs
tucked themselves to my scalp
and joined me on my pillow that night,
her hat tucked back in her suitcase.
They say you never know a person till you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.
I walked two miles in her hat—
I think I have an idea.