The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Head to Toe of It by Rikki Santer


This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Genevieve Pfeiffer, is from Head to Toe of It by Rikki Santer, released by Kelsay Books in 2021. 

An Almost Ghazal For My Mother’s Hats

A memory fermata from my brother’s musty
basement—your weathered cache of dormant hats.

Who wants to be a milliner? It’s me who yearns to
adorn you again with your signature crown panache.

Not Carmen Miranda’s tutti frutti tower or the
mystique that Audrey Hepburn’s brims begat

but your astute and effortless pillbox, satin
cream to match your linen dress, jeweled flats.

Not in Lady Gaga’s floppy blushpink Boho
or in Schiaparelli’s high-heeled shoe-hat

but your quail-feathered bowler with emerald ribbon—
pure hattitude for luncheons, their green-eyed chitchat.

When you stepped out you were a standout, behold
that black-velvet, pearl-beaded, mink-trimmed half-hat,

your summer straw with gingham flowers, a tufty
clown bouncing on the headband of your circus hat.

Tonight I salvage from sagging round boxes
your weathered cache of trademark hats, still

beguiled by scarlet lips, veiled fascinators, this daughter’s
finishing school for accessorizing—the play in being all that.

Rikki Santer’s poetry has received many honors including six Pushcart and three Ohioana and Ohio Poet book award nominations as well as a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Her eleventh poetry collection, Stopover, which is in conversation with the original Twilight Zone series, was recently published by Luchador Press. She is also a member of the teaching artist roster of the Ohio Arts Council, a vice president of the Ohio Poetry Association, and a member of the poetry troupe Concrete Wink.

Genevieve Pfeiffer is a poet, writer, and scholar. Their masters project at New York University explores ideological shifts around birth control & abortion and their intersections with nature & culture. Read more about this project at the link below.

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