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The Lady in the Straw Hat

A glimpse – that’s all it was – as I drove by. But it was enough to conjure up her world, this lady with the straw hat. She moved with a thoughtful gait, cutting flowers from small garden rounds, holding a rattan-like basket by its high arched handle, filled with long-stemmed flowers, her gloved hand holding garden shears. Her wide-brimmed hat cast a soft shadow over her face, and a loose pale yellow sleeveless dress was the embodiment of coolness itself. Mature in years, intelligent, discerning, a woman of taste and refinement, books and travel – all suggested in her thoughtfulness and sharp, and well-bred comportment. Perhaps she lived alone now. The voice and touch of him with whom she once had shared her life no longer there. Yet she seemed content and settled, adjusted to whatever loss she might have known. This morning she’s in her garden, a refuge perhaps from memories and loss, where white and yellow snapdragons, daylilies, bachelor buttons and other flowers suitable for her table. Final cuttings join the others as she leaves by way of the narrow flagstone path beneath the shade of a dogwood tree. We may suppose old friends – the last of many – are coming for dinner. Inside (I imagine) she will arrange the flowers in a cherished vase – perhaps her mother’s – on a dining table of lustrous wood – a family heirloom. French cambric napkins, artfully shaped, stand each in its plate of Sèvres china; the tall, bright red beeswax candles waiting patiently to offer their special ambiance when guests arrive. Everything must be just so – just the way it used to be when he was there with his approval.

Copyright © | Year Posted 2021

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Date: 7/18/2021 12:18:00 PM
i love how you've conjured up an entire life for this woman based on her straw hat and her garden. well done, maurice!
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Maurice Rigoler
Date: 7/18/2021 1:50:00 PM
Thanks, Ilene. I wrote this poem some years ago ut ha e edited in a few places. I actually saw this lady one morning with her straw hat cutting flowers in her garden, and the poem just about wrote itself. Thanks for reading it. / Maurice