Hats Off to the Cap

The life of this cap began with baseball,

where it cast a helpful shadow on high flies,

defended players’ faces from the sun,

grew into after weeks of wear

a repository of collected sweat—

proudly stained talisman, there to lure good luck

and please the game’s capricious gods.

Today we can say there is no headwear

that has made more headway than the baseball cap.

It has found a place of honor in many other sports,

often donned and doffed in times of triumph,

become chapeau of choice for tens of millions,

climbed up the haberdashery ladder, passing

pork pies, trilbys, derbys, boaters, homburgs,

Borsalino berets and center dent fedoras.

Headdress etiquette suggests the cap should be atop

the head (bill forward, back, or sideways if you like)

at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, work and play.

Strategically deployed, it may be worn as well at

bedtime. But wearers would be wise to give the cap a

bit of rest, to remember that it has historic roots in

perspiration and that, under constant, sweaty cover,

the head can be a haven for organism orgies.

Promiscuous microbes are wont to frolic there,

Engaged in serial acts of procreation. The third base

coach is killing bugs, not signaling a bunt.

The accomplished cap will be the top hat of tomorrow,

to be worn, bill backward, to inaugural balls, formal

banquets, opera openings, Oscar nights. If some day

you are greeted by St. Peter at the gate, you may see

him in his Dodger cap, a gift from Jackie Robinson.