My Mother's Hats
She kept them high on the top shelf
In boxes big as drums—
Bright, crescent-shaped boats
With little fishnets dangling down—
And wore them with her best dress
To teas, coffee parties, department stores.
What a lovely catch, my father used to say,
Watching her sail off into the afternoon waters.
So this is how it must've looked,
The gates to the garden
And both of them
Standing there in late-afternoon light,
Looking back, the rain pelting
Down hard, the flowers
Closing their shutters,
The leaves already beginning to fall.
What was amazing was not
The damage so much, the barns
It buckled, the livestock it left dead.
Or the swath, a mile wide,
It carved through the cornfields,
Stalks sheared to the ground.
Or even the safe, the old Mosler
From the bank at Plainview,
We found days later half-
Buried in some back pasture.
But the sight of Gustafson,
Dazed but still alive, looking up
Like one of the just-born,
The newly blessed, his corncribs
Brimming over with coins,
His dry drought-stricken fields
All green, lush with bills,
And no sound but the broken blades
Of the wind pump grinding lazily
To a halt, his hogs grunting
Into the sweet light of the saved.