The State of the Ship | L.E. Goldstein

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L.E. Goldstein is a native of Florida, but has since lived in Mississippi, Boston, Ecuador, and Dallas. She holds an MA from the University of Southern Mississippi and an MFA from Boston University. Her poems have most recently appeared in MiddleGray3 Elements Review, and Illya’s Honey She is currently working as an online content writer in Dallas, and she is also the editor of Moon Pigeon, a poetry letter series publication.  The State of the Ship is her first chapbook publication.


This Kind of Hat

You're told it's not that sort of wedding,
your only chance to throw flowers, to wear a white
princess dress, but you're tossed a cowgirl hat.
You think, how unfair, but at least it's blue,
not pink like your sister's. And the pictures
show your tucked-in white T-shirt, black felt
boots, and you wonder why you weren't born
a boy, because you look like one in your white
Mickey cap, head pocking the backs of pin-ups
at Disney. You're griping about too many photos
so an old man shouts, "C'mon, Sonny, smile
for your Dad!" You're not
a real girl,
not like the girls who stand in line for ice cream
in summer, sporting bikinis or open-backed shirts, floppy
flowered hats shading their small shoulders,
skin tight across their spines, drawing your eyes to fine
blonde hairs. Have they ever worried about looking
like some young prince of the 19th century, you wonder?
Do they fantasize about falling in love
with the bass of a barbershop quartet? In college band,
you couldn't fit your shako, had to get
a man's x-large. It's just your thick hair,
your friends say. But anyway,
you hate how you look in a hat, save beanies
for the coldest days.
You watch women sleep on statues,
their heads resting against shoulders
of sitting bronze men, hoods pulled up over their eyes.
You're jealous of their companionship
so you tug on your own hood, but it keeps
falling back. You sneak into your friend's after-conference
party, see the surplus of money from hearing-aid
companies, a 15 piece band, four open bars,
neon strobing rings, straws, sunglasses.
You catch a black sparkling derby that flashes
at three different settings when the battery
pack's pressed. You think, how unfair,
but you put on the hat.