Rita Dove





Headdress

The hat on the table 
in the dining room 
is no pet trained to sit still. Three 
pearl-tipped spears and Beulah 
maneuvering her shadow 
to the floor. The hat 
is cold. The hat 
wants more.

(The customer will be 
generous when satisfied 
beyond belief. Spangled 
tulle, then, in green 
and gold and sherry.)

Beulah 
would have settled 
for less. She doesn't 
pray when she's 
terrified, sometimes, in- 
side her skin like 
today, humming 
through a mouthful of pins.

Finished it's a mountain 
on a dish, a capitol 
poised on a littered shore. 
The brim believes 
in itself, its 
double rose and feathers 
ashiver. Extravagance 
redeems. O 
intimate parasol 
that teaches to walk 
with grace along beauty's seam.