ONG'S HAT


Are you thinking of Ong?
Every night I think of Ong and of how he came
to the pine woods long ago, hung his hat on a tree,
and vanished from the face of the earth.
I wonder...
Was he devoured by bears or other wild beasts?
Was he swept away by a flood or sucked up by a tornado?

Was he murdered and dragged off?
Did he, wanting to "disappear," leave
his hat behind as a false clue
pointing to foul play?
Was he kidnapped by beings not of this earth?
(I wonder, for example,
about those "strange boot prints" reported
at the finding of his hat.)

Or did he stumble upon some hole in time and space,
that led nowhere in this world but everywhere in another?
Does he now live somewhere close by, where we can't see him?
Which is the answer? From time to time,
as I worry over this mystery of Ong's disappearance,
I go into the pine woods and walk up and down,
kicking over the sandy soil and calling out.
It is always quiet there and very hot.

Alone, I think of Ong and of being invisible.
I wonder if hanging his hat on a certain tree
hadn't triggered some secret door
in the middle of the air,
that opened to another world.
Perhaps I shall hang my own hat
on this branch here,
and...