Strange word for so simple
a thing as a flat felt hat.
Don’t forget your bear-ay,
my mother’d say, and I thought it
a protective object. Surely it wasn’t
an “affectation”? Father despised
“affectation,” and so did Mother: She’s
affected, they’d say of one, and that
would be the end of her. Where were
the lines? Was Papa wholly un-“affected”?
Such questions were absorbing. Also,
Am I bad? Why the sudden slap?
And why, for a man without pretense,
a Parisian dauber’s headgear? Why,
for the South Philadelphian, talisman,
not tallis? German, embraced and
cherished, not Yiddish. Swabian,
indeed, including a rustic embroidered
smock for me. But a French hat, with
the “t” unspoken. Why and why?