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Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Stetson by Sage

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The women preen and flirt.
The Stetson dips slightly and turns
away.

                          ~

Bullets fly. The Stetson dodges.
It dips and weaves.

At times it flies off, caught upon a stiff
breeze. Once, it is pierced.

                          ~

The streets of Chicago pass in a blur.
A door opens on a rush of wind.
The Stetson's inner band grips tight
and prepares to roll.

                          ~

The fur of the half-wolf clings to its felt;
its wearer cleans it with a velvet brush.
On a clockwork schedule, the Stetson meets
iron and steam.

                          ~

At the height of city summer, it lies wilted
and limp. In the North, the air is crisp,
weightless.

The Stetson contracts: its fibers bristle
and remember.

                          ~

The cabin smells of evergreen.
The office smells of paper and neatsfoot oil.
The Stetson smells of wool, leather, hair
tonic, and Mountie.

                          ~

The boat lies beneath Lake Superior.
Upon the lake's surface lies a Stetson.

                          ~

The men preen and flirt. The Stetson
lingers.

                          ~

All things are Stetson except its wearer.

                          ~

The detective's hair prickles, tickles,
like the corners of the colored paper
the wearer tucks within its inner band.

It slips and lurches to and fro, ill fit, unable
to sit.

                          ~

Long ago, the Stetson knew many others.
It used to hang on oaken racks among
a hundred like it.

Now the Stetson sees few of its kind.
It does not miss them.

                          ~

In the photograph, there is a man, a man, a half-wolf, and a Stetson.

The Stetson is not where it should be.

                          ~

The man lifts the Stetson and flings it away.

"Ray!" cries the wearer. The Stetson slides
to a halt at the edge of the kitchen counter,
overbalances, and topples onto a barstool.

"No harm, see?" says the man, placing the Stetson
on the bar with exaggerated care.

Fingers card through the wearer's hair;
the men move away, out of sight.

The Stetson remains, forgotten.