Before the onset of addled speech
when stitch becomes swatch becomes
swish becomes swash becomes schwa,
the fabric needs to be dipped and dyed,
measured and cut, patterned and sewn.
But it’s all wrong, needs to be done
twice again. Shaky hands, poor sight
make for mis-measurement, mis-hue.
The felt has never been sick, yet it’s still
cured with mercury in rooms with no vents.
In the late stages,
the hats make themselves.
Dance under needles. Zip through machines.
Twinkle. Entwine. Glow velvet neon.
Crush with feathers. Drink the mercury
gallon by gallon, let the hatter
sleep in his maddened bed.