Black Hat

The black hat. The wig. The shawl. The thick stockings. The kerchief. The skullcap. The hidden fringes. The posted decrees. Neighbors spitting with suspicion. Roaring hooves. Thwack of sabers. The night escape. The ship. Stacked bunks in steerage. The stench. The elderly. Time peeling. The deck. The railing. The jolt of docking. Gulps of fresh air. Shoving. The brick buildings. Family clusters. The names noted: last, first. Lost syllables. Truncated. Neutered. New name assigned. Whispers down the shuffling line. Questions dangling in stagnant air. Men with clipboards. Lifted shirts. Stethoscope on bare skin. Prodding for fever, rashes. Pinpoint of light in the eyes. Men in uniform. A limp. Stifled coughs. Girl yanked out of line. The shiny badge. The rejected. The separation. The chain-linked fence. The black hat.

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