Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Unfortunate Hat (a prose poem)

The milliner suffered from insomnia. When he did sleep, he was subject to dreams involving his lost love, Lucinda.

He would dream that he could see her at the other end of a train station, waving with a folded newspaper held in her gloved hand. However, in the manner of dreams, when he tried to hurry to her, each movement required Herculean effort just to budge an inch. He would never be able to cross the entire station in time.

And so, he would wake up and go down to his basement shop to work on a new hat. As if he were a public fountain of loneliness, his sadness dripped from his mind down through his arms and out his fingers, into the material for the hat, into the ribbons, into the packaging for mailing it to the customer.

Upon receipt, ladies would see the lovely color, feel the softness and delight in the unique design, hand-made only for her by the milliner. Unfortunately, upon wearing the hats, odd things would begin to happen.

Mrs. Arthur Popovich, after wearing her hat to her bridge club, failed to return home. She was found sitting on a bench at the local train station, fanning herself absently with a folded newspaper, with tears streaming down her cheeks. 

"Do you see the platform?" she asked a bewildered Mr. Popovich when he finally found her. "Do you see how it makes no move to hold the trains as they arrive and depart? How cold it is! The rails never meet. Did you ever notice that?" 

"Come home, darling," he said gently, and she did, but she was never the same. Other husbands from Dubuque to Sioux City reported the same baffling behavior, and read about each other in advice columns.

Meanwhile, the milliner saw his Lucinda once again in yet another dream, waving to him with a folded newspaper held in her gloved hand. Inside, were letters from men whose wives had purchased hats. These men sat in telephone booths along the wall, the doors folded back, their overcoats open, not talking, just staring. When the lonely milliner tried to run, to get to Lucinda in time, each of these men picked up their respective receivers and began to dial. The milliner found himself moving so fast that it made him dizzy. In the time it took him to realize it, he was at the departure platform, losing his balance, reeling and falling past Lucinda. She turned his way and blew him a kiss, her lips a perfect red, her gloves as white as electric lights. After that, he did not dream anymore, and there were no more hats, despite dozens of orders scattered across his work table, unfilled.
_____ 

for Bjorn's "Butterfly Effect" challenge at Real Toads.

14 comments:

brudberg said...

What a captivating take.. Love the story and the sadness poured into each of those hats. The effect of a dream poured into the wonder of the hats.. Thank you for joining with this wonderful piece

Mr Puddy said...

Before mom met me, she sometime had insomnia....since she met me...Never Ever Known " insomnia" ever again ! cause she has to wake up at 5 am. to feed me...This guy must have CATS !

hedgewitch said...

This is devilishly subtle, and full of the purposeless focus and relentless intent of dreams, which seem to know impossible things about us and the world--and convince us they are right, despite our own lack of data. I love the central section best, describing the dilemma of Mrs. Popovitch, but the ending is equally brilliant, and very wry, (or perhaps awry,) with a sense of the basic injustice, or at least incomprehension of life and love.

Outlawyer said...

Ha. Wonderful. k.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

A story! How cool. Started smiling at the beginning. Still smiling. Just perfect.

Kerry O'Connor said...

What a story - the end so bitter sweet and tragic. (What more could we poets ask for in a tale?)

Jessa said...

Your writing, and even more so, your brain, has no rival. You are a god among mortals.

This piece should open a book.

Edward said...

Fucking A, give me an empty notebook, a pen and a seat on a bench somewhere in a train depot/station inside your fictional worlds ... bellissimo !

Cloudia said...

give free reign to that rich inner world of yours, Shay!

De said...

CAPTIVATED. Truly, utterly captivated.

Mama Zen said...

You amaze me.

Ileana said...

Genius. You've said so much in such few words.

Lynn said...

Wow - I can see the whole thing!

said...

What you did with the word "prose" in the title was very clever.