Sunday Poem

My Grandfather’s Hat

—in memory of Basiliso Morot Cordero

I cannot stop thinking of that old hat
he is wearing in the grave: the last gift
of love from his wife before they fell
into the habit of silence.

Forgotten as the daughters chose
the funeral clothes, it sat
on his dresser as it always had:
old leather, aromatic as his individual self,
pliable as an old companion, ready to go
anywhere with him.

The youngest grandchild remembered
and ran after her father, who was carrying
the old man’s vanilla suit—the one worn to bodas,
bautismos, and elections—like a lifeless
child in arms: No te olvides
del sombrero de abuelo.

I had seen him hold the old hat in his lap
and caress it as he talked of the good times,
and when he walked outside, placed it on his head
like a blessing.

My grandfather, who believed in God,
the Gracious Host, Proprietor of the Largest Hacienda.
May it be so. May heaven
be an island in the sun,
where a good man may wear his hat with pride,
glad that he could take it with him.

by Judith Ortiz Cofer
from Paper Dance-55 Latino Poets
Persea Books, 1995