How I Became My Father's Hat

i sit before my empty plate
my arms are a knife and fork waiting
on either side of my round body
my parents are a knife and fork
on either side of their flat white daughter

on the third day of waiting
night comes suddenly
someone has tossed a large black hat over us
i can not make out the name on the hatband

my parents are sleeping
i slither out under the brim
stand on the balding ground
there is a moth big as a dog
hovering toward the lamppost
it sounds like a math class in there:
divide in two, the teacher says
climb toward the light

instead i open the mailbox at the end of the driveway
inside, my grandmother smiling kindly
a pale green bean between her lips

thanks, i say
replacing the bean with a garden hose

i divide the bean in two
enough for me and one other

i open my mouth
Grandad pops out
suppertime, i say
no thanks, Grandad replies
not hungry!

i wait by the door
the sun is a bright flat bean
we have a multitude of children
the phone rings

it is my father
he is old
he is shivering
my children and i perch on his head
as if on the head of a pin
try to keep him warm

he bends down
begins to sew a buttonhole
into the new ground
still we're able to hang on

he wants to put my bean into the buttonhole
he wants to button up
the ground like it was a business suit
he wants it to be the way it was before
the ocean slid off the land
before the earth's cracked mantle
filled with salty waves and inscrutable
inky in the dark underwater

my children and i
will be my father's hat
but will not give him the bean
will not be his button

let him find it in the mouth of
his own grandma

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