My Father’s Hat

To the memory of Jim Greeley, friend of my youth

Gerard Smyth, second from left, with companion wearing My Father’s Hat. June 1969.

Dear friend, you sent me a photograph,
a black-and-white freeze-frame image of the past.
In it I am wearing my father’s hat.
The brown hat that smelled of ancient sweat
and Dublin drizzle. The kind of hat
worn by Alan Ladd in gangster films.

I am wearing my father’s hat
and I am seated between two companions:
together we are tightly bunched
like veterans from an old brigade.
Since then we have lost touch.
And I will never again find my father’s hat.
It is hard enough to find my father in the old part of the cemetery where all paths look the same.

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