It is hard for even me to remember
that there once was a time when
every man wore at hat, whether
a simple watch cap or Greek
fisherman’s hat, a fedora to be
avoided if you value your life,
a bowler of great propriety.
I wear a simple Nepalese hat
a reversible pillbox style, and actually
I have a dozen in various colors,
and they draw more comments
than I ever would, often taken
for a kufi, and I have brothers
from other worlds now, despite
the gulf of colors and histories
which in that moment are bridged.
And no one imagines that it
is more than a fashion statement
since no one gets to ask the few
lonely hairs that still cling
to my ever more barren scalp.
Over the next few weeks I shall
step into more churches than is safe
for a formerly Jewish Buddhist, but
in Europe it seems no tour is complete
without one or more churches, at least
one of which will be the most
beautiful cathedral in all of [choose
any country you wish and inserted here.]
I will take off my hat, for that is easier
than the opprobrium of the faithful,
I will stare at the beauty of the stained-glass,
try, in some cases, to ignore its message,
and hope, beyond all logic, that this group
will stop at a synagogue were all
of the men and women, save me
will have to put on kippot or head scarves
and most will vow it will be their last visit
do such a heathen place, at least until
they get to Antwerp or Amsterdam.
As a child I was quite adept
folding sheets of newspaper
into paper hats and paper boats.
The boats immediately took on water,
and sank like the sodden masses
I made them to be, but I could wear
the hats for hours, until my mother
had to scrub my forehead
to get off the printer’s ink.
You might think I would consider
becoming a reporter or journalist
given my penchant for newsprint,
but I instead became a Buddhist
because I do love folding things
over and over and over again
kirigami requires the use
of scissors, which my mother prohibited.