Ann Keiffer

The Woman in the Picture Hat

I remember arriving
at that garden party
one summer evening
long ago: late-day sun
slipping through the
leaves of sheltering oaks,
dappling the round tables
handsome in their white cloths,
white candles ready to be lit.

I noticed you the moment
we walked into the garden.
You were already seated
at one of the round tables.
And you were wearing a
dramatic, wide-brimmed hat.

I hadn’t seen you in so long,
I crossed right to you, grinning.
You stood up from your chair,
both of us exclaiming
as we hugged and kissed
underneath the brim of your hat.
We had serious catching-up to do,
so I took the chair beside you
and we burrowed into the instantly-
regained intimacy of longtime-friends,
with our husbands coming around
periodically to re-provision us
with glasses of wine
and food on little plates.

Evening deepened to moonlit night.
White lights twinkled in the trees
and all the candles on the tables
had been lit when you leaned in
close to tell me the one thing
you had been holding back:
You had recently found out
that your husband
had been having an affair.
I felt the breath go out of me.
I reached for your hand.
“Oh my god, oh-no-no-no,
are you…okay?” I whispered.
You nodded, tears welling up.
“It was devastating,” you said,
“But we’re getting better now.
We’ve chosen our marriage;
and we’re working it out.”

If anyone could work it out
and pull a restored marriage
from the refining fire, I was
certain the two of you would.
I knew you both that well…
and there was also something
important in the fact
you were wearing that
daring picture hat.

Ann Keiffer/June 2012
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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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