Academic journal article TriQuarterly

Black Hat

Academic journal article TriQuarterly

Black Hat

Article excerpt

The nurses say the old want bright-colored sheets. They make the days less plain: bold plaids or printed flowers absorb the eye. Now that she lies there under the paisley covers I bought, it's hard to

imagine that once for a year she wore a black hat. Her skin pale as now, Hamburg 1948: the train station crowded with children returning from Sweden, late January snow, soot, drafty ruins. I had been homesick

for three months and didn't mind that hat, nor waiting for her to finish chatting with the nurse from the Red Cross. That night in the hotel room we huddled close in bed and warmed each other.

Her hat lay turned up on the chair like a black boat. When she turned off the light, the boat grew in the dark, grew and began to float. It was then she told me about my sister, why there had been no letters

for weeks. Black hat, black hat, together we lay there drifting inside a ship of grief. Next day at home she took out fresh white sheets and moved into my sister's bed. …

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