Anthropologists of resurrection
Must count your hat among their golden boughs.
What were the odds that day the maître d’
At the Imperial Café would do his job
And hand your hat along to the concierge
At the Imperial Hotel—that round black flat-
Topped flannel cap you wear so jauntily?
Right away, when you first felt the loss,
The duties of such jobs became our hope.
I’m no Aeneas saddled with a frail
Old man and clinging son who soon will be
Without a mom. I served vicariously in Troy
And Vietnam. During the Tet Offensive
I met my first wife and at the Fall of Saigon
Said goodbye. Was that the case in Prague
At the Imperial with the maître d’
And concierge? Would they do their jobs?
I came back, hat in hand, and your smile briefly
Turned me into Spencer Tracy in Adam’s Rib.
His Eve receives this gift from her Adam: “Just
The best hat in the world, for the best head”
—Or some such line I don’t yet have down pat.
Whether I earned it, who’d deny me that?
Larry Rhu is professor at the University of South Carolina and author of Stanley Cavell’s American Dream, among other books.