Beret

Natania Rosenfeld

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?

Natania Rosenfeld is author of a poetry collection, Wild Domestic, and a critical book, Outsiders Together: Virginia and Leonard Woolf. Her essays, poems and fiction have appeared in journals including APR, Raritan, Gettysburg Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Southwest Review.
Originally published:
January 1, 2019

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