by Kristina Drake

Striped woollen toque slumped on the backseat car floor, a smear of colour against dark carpet, blending rough with pebbles, road salt, ground-in dried leaves -

This casual interference, casual recall of presence, questions of ownership, images conjured: dark features, rugged skin to match the knit, nose and cheeks flushed with November cold—already

it is spring, and seems the hat has been lying there, forgotten all winter, this surprise appearance: eyes rimmed by rolled knit edge—no alternating duality to finish flat with even purl knit purl knit.

Saucer face, eyes, and curved lip: hat top bottom scarf—this cupped face, fairly steaming.

Thought of the possible: Thieves cupping opportunist hands to backseat windows, or aiming penlights between the seats, at side-panel pockets for any item worth the 3 second break and grab—only

the toque and its red, yellow, brown stripes claiming a tired presence, eyes closed, the face drifting into carpeted oblivion. And he,

the new passenger, casually checking his backseat blind spot from the corner of his eye, slides the seat further back, accommodating his leggy length, slightly pauses, mid sentence— the last word, almost dropping off.

Distance instils. Wandering thought. Flashing leap-split of synapse, linking 2&2:

A headless hat. The man who'd worn it.

(swallowed, taken back.

Kristina Drake lives and writes in Montreal. She is the author of three chapbooks; the most recent, Ascents, was published in 2002. Her poems have also appeared in Soliloquies (2002) and Yalla! zine (2004).