The Hat Horizon by Aaron Morris

When the sky collapsed, could no longer function as it did before, we understood pretty quickly that it had to be replaced with hats. We weren’t too sure about using the stovepipes due to their size and the way that they could obstruct both the sun and other hats, but besides that, just about any other type of headgear went up.

For the places in the horizon where we most wanted to see the sun, we riddled holes into bucket and Panama hats until one might think they were more material than hat. Strangely, though, one never did; their hat essence remained. We also used pith helmets, and our process was less taxing there; a single large hole at the top would allow the sunlight to slide through like milk falling from bottles and down a sluice.

When we finished replacing the sky with hats, the horizon looked like a knight’s half-open visor, and people always felt unnerved going down the road, as if they were walking right into some great danger. The sparrows, however, kept on flying forward, frequently crashing right into some of the old leather helmets that football players used to wear. The birds squabbled at first, but when they extricated themselves, they’d usually either fly where they were going or, suddenly fascinated by the branch-like leather, set up nests in the helmets.

Planes never had a lot of problems with the hat horizon. They’d fly through the canvas as if it were the world’s thickest bead curtain: some scattering of the headgear as each plane passed before everything returned to where it was.

Occasionally, some tricorner hats would fall from the sky and float together on a lake, often confusing swans and deterring them from settling there.

We made do with the fallen clouds as replacements for our hats. Whenever we felt like wearing some pickelhaubes, for example, we’d fashion a cloud into the helmet part and then tear off a spire from an abandoned chemical plant for the spike on the top. We were resourceful like that.

Aaron Morris is a poetry student in the MFA program at West Virginia Wesleyan College. His poetry and short stories have appeared in ABZ, Et Cetera, Jet Fuel Review, Kanawha Review, and Turtleshell. He teaches writing and literature as an adjunct instructor at West Virginia State University.