Ann Keiffer

Artifacts and Props

While loading her car to leave
on a solo writer’s retreat,
our neighbor suffered
a catastrophic stroke.

We discovered her
in the passenger seat,
her feet in the street,
her forehead resting
on the half-open door.

Firetruck, ambulance, EMT’s
arrived within minutes,
pumped her chest,
restarted her heart,
gave her oxygen…
as we searched for
her drivers license–
legal photo-ID
the EMT’s needed
so she wouldn’t
need to be admitted
to the hospital
as a Jane Doe.

We found her wallet,
but in it, only an interim,
renewal drivers license
without any photo.
The ambulance left us
with lights flashing,
their Jane Doe in transit,
still and unconscious.

What could we do for her?
Put her car in the garage.
Find her phone; reach her kids.
Search for her passport,
the legal photo ID they
needed at the hospital now
to give her back her name.

We found the passport.
But as we were searching
our neighbor’s familiar home,
a strange awareness
settled over me…
Luggage and laptop,
sofas and chairs,
flat-screen, books,
piano, paintings and pans,
her every possession
just sitting there,
still, inanimate, stopped.
Without her, the house
felt like a stage-set,
everything in it just
artifacts and props.
All the Life that had been here
was within her.
The next day, in death,
to Life she returned.

Ann Keiffer
March, 2016

In memoriam, for our neighbor,
a generous, intelligent, loving,
committed, full-of-life woman

Image Credit: adapted from an image by eflon on Flickr


About Ann

I am interested in the strange beauty of brokenness, in transforming possibility in difficult times, in how we heal even when we can’t get better, in the alchemy of surrender, in the interplay of light and shadow, in the bounty of everyday wonders, in the gift of laughter…and writing about it, all and everything.

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