“My Father's Hats” by Mark Irwin
Poetry 180: A Poem a Day for American High Schools, Hosted by Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2001-2003
My Father's Hats
All of the saints starved themselves. Not a single fat one. The words “deity” and “diet” must have come from the same Latin root. Those saints must have been thin as knucklebones or shards of stained glass or Christ carved on his cross. Hard as pew seats. Brittle as hair shirts. Women made from bone, like the ribs that protrude from his wasted wooden chest. Women consumed by fervor. They must have been able to walk three or four abreast down that straight and oh-so-narrow path. They must have slipped with ease through the eye of the needle, leaving the weighty camels stranded at the city gate. Within that spare city’s walls, I do not think I would find anyone like me. I imagine I will find my kind outside lolling in the garden munching on the apples.
from New Letters, Volume 66, Number 3, 2000
Copyright 2000 by The Curators of the University of Missouri.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of Cleveland State University Press from New Letters. Copyright 2000 by The Curators of the University of Missouri. For further permissions information, contact The Curators of the University of Missouri, Kansas City, MO.
About the Poet
Mark Irwin is the author of six poetry collections, including American Urn: Selected Poems (Ashland Poetry Press, 2015).
Learn more about Mark Irwin at The Poetry Foundation.