Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Foam Hat

Twirling like a Mexican Hat Dance,

hat-shaped, big as a sombrero,

a ring of vegetable foam,

decayed and fermented from years

of leaf-fall, whirls in a pool

below a tiny waterfall.

I’d like to shovel it up

in a coherent mass and ship it

to a museum of entropy

where tourists could admire it

and scientists could measure it

to confirm their favorite theories.

But it would collapse like angel

food cake, leaving a yellow scum.

The brook has been heady with rain.

The many little waterfalls

have yellowed with debris skimmed

from the forest floor. This foam hat

formed when no one was looking,

when leaf-matter clumped and clung

to a notion of symmetry

that survives its DNA.

Insects skim the busy current.

Striders brave the whirlpool and cling

to the rotating structure, their flat

paddle-feet pawing for a grip.

They’ll probe the foam for creatures

small enough to eat. A fish

hardly larger than the striders

noses from under the hat, flashes

its rubbery tail and disappears

downstream in a hurry. I skid

across the slippery rocks back

to land. Safely on the trail,

I note how firm the foam-hat looks

from a distance, how reverently

the circling water dandles it

as if a coronation

were about to claim this space.

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