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Exchanging Hats

 Unfunny uncles who insist
in trying on a lady's hat,
--oh, even if the joke falls flat,
we share your slight transvestite twist

in spite of our embarrassment.
Costume and custom are complex.
The headgear of the other sex inspires us to experiment.
Anandrous aunts, who, at the beach with paper plates upon your laps, keep putting on the yachtsmen's caps with exhibitionistic screech, the visors hanging o'er the ear so that the golden anchors drag, --the tides of fashion never lag.
Such caps may not be worn next year.
Or you who don the paper plate itself, and put some grapes upon it, or sport the Indian's feather bonnet, --perversities may aggravate the natural madness of the hatter.
And if the opera hats collapse and crowns grow draughty, then, perhaps, he thinks what might a miter matter? Unfunny uncle, you who wore a hat too big, or one too many, tell us, can't you, are there any stars inside your black fedora? Aunt exemplary and slim, with avernal eyes, we wonder what slow changes they see under their vast, shady, turned-down brim.

by Elizabeth Bishop
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