The Fearsome Hats

Decades ago, carcasses rode high.  Perched, poised and stuffed, they were trapped beneath silk netting and created a coy diorama above the ladies' hats, the large hats, the fearsome hats.

Birds, glass-eyed and full of straw, were arranged by diabolical milliners into a frozen mockery of flight – no longer enticed by the breezes that curled and tickled. 

Feathers were pinned to the monstrous brims that hid the ladies from a sky grown increasingly empty and silent.  Torn from back and wings, plucked from breasts and tails, they were anchored by jewels:  copper-veined turquoise, milky jade, rubies that fumed like dragons' eyes.  The feathers were no longer warm with nature's delicate tints; they were dyed in shameless, brazen colors, wrapped around a prostitute's beckoning finger.

But time has passed, and since then birds have flown before the reach of fashion's degradation.  They look back from the safety of a less profligate world to one of dissolute plundering, when bodies fell from the sky in a black rain.

The ones I saw wouldn't be so bold if their chaste plumage was still sought in the cause of dishonored decoration:

They probably have no recollection of their ancestors, pinned like halted butterflies; inert ships sailing above the heads of their mistresses.  Their DNA is crowded with migratory itineraries, flight maps, astronomical charts, longitudes and latitudes traced across an unknowable planet – no doubt there is little room for any remorse for those whose travels were arrested so long ago.

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13 responses to “The Fearsome Hats

  1. Imagine the birds depending on the vagaries of fashion for its survival. Imagine milliners depending on the vagaries of nature for survival.

  2. This is superb. I loved reading it and it was so informative. Thank you!

  3. What an incredible post! Thank you. 99 people out of 100 would have just stated the bald facts — you make a poem, a rare work of art. You are, yourself, a rare work of art.

  4. Aubrey writing about hats. Life does not get much better than this!

  5. what gorgeous language! I am so very glad to have you in my neighborhood. It's so inspiring to read what you write.

  6. hats off to another fine piece of prose by ms. aubrey!

  7. Thanks, Aubrey. This was beautiful.

  8. Beautiful post, Aubrey. It made me think of all the birds I have held in my hands, so warm and full of life with those racing heartbeats of birdkind, so soft and fragile… the feathers I have looked at in microscopes to see how every little 'hair' is hooked onto the next… forming the most fantastic lightweight waterproof wonders of flight engineering… the articles I read about the 'true' colors of birds. They often have startling contrasting patterns on their chests or heads… but in ultraviolet shades of colors we mammals can't see.

  9. Aubrey writing about hats and birds and humankind's debauchery. The best!!!

  10. Yes, you said it, much better than I did!

  11. I kinda stole some o' yours…..:P

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