Various and Sundry Poetry

I love your hat

“I love your hat,” I said to the tollbooth operator 
on the way into the Lincoln Tunnel on the afternoon
of the funeral of one of my mother’s oldest friends.
The day was a startle of cold. The toll was $13,
up a dollar from just a few months before.
“What?” the woman asked, returning my change,
not hearing. “I love your hat,” 
I repeated. We locked eyes then and forgot the cars
behind me, and the sardine can of that tunnel, and she said,
“You do?” as if I was asking to marry her and maybe
in a way I was. The service was on the Upper West Side
but I was not thinking of how hard it would be to find parking
or the too-hot sanctuary or the hands of strangers I would press
in my offers of condolence. I was here, a late Wednesday morning,
two hundred feet from the tunnel, saying “I do” to a woman
in a beautiful hat, the smile between us holding up traffic,
and for a moment longer than we thought possible,
keeping everything around us
suspended, untouchable. 
Alive.