Blaze Orange Hat

DSC03996A year ago, November
I bought a blaze orange hat for backpacking in the Ozarks.
It was opening weekend: Deer season in Arkansas.
I thought better safe than sorry.

My friends slept through sunrise
While I started a fire, made a cup of tea, walked to the ridge to touch the morning.
The sky, rose and pearly, broke against the trees and I felt the weight of the world
Spinning me into the sun

I looked over my shoulder
at all the lidded eyes and quiet faces asleep in the grass, then turned back
to the mad, pink panic of sunrise and felt like I’d stepped for a moment out of a box
Where I was living safe and sorry.

I thought, I never want to be sorry.

A year ago, November
I emptied my backpack and started a fire. I quit my job and burned
the broken parts of my romance. I packed warm clothes: long underwear
wool socks, my blaze orange hat

This morning, in Alaska
I packed my things in a hurry. I put on my long underwear and wool socks,
But couldn’t find my hat. My friend, no stranger to a sunrise, lent me one to wear.
It’s cold, Alaska, in October.

What a wonder.
I lost my blaze orange hat in an eight-by-eight tent in a field of white. Strange.
how that white smells of smoke in a pearly, frozen country the size of the sky.
My skin, too, smells of smoke.

I know I will never be sorry.

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