The Poetic City: “A Suite for Miss Helen: First Dance 7/29/18”


The importance of dancing is always present in New Orleans. (Photo: Zack Smith)

A Suite for Miss Helen: First Dance   7/29/18
The first time I asked Miss Helen to dance, I believed I was doing her a favor.  
She was dancing without a partner on the old green floor in the
corner of Economy Hall. 
I was intimidated.
I was afraid I had forgotten everything I learned in eighth grade 
about jitterbug and fox trot.
Then, she smiled at me and I couldn’t help myself. 
I didn’t expect much…  but, I had been taught to be a gentleman. 
So when she smiled, I nodded and stepped out onto the floor, 
I thought I was being courteous to a little old lady in tennis shoes.
What I encountered was a force of nature. 
Before I knew what was happening to me I found myself being led 
deep into the very heart of jazz. 
All my fear of being foolish dropped away as we danced
and danced and danced some more.  
For twenty years or so, I danced with Miss Helen.
In her wheel chair we danced…
When she no longer knew who I was, we danced… 
At her funeral I led her second line…
And, now whenever I am dancing, with whomever I am dancing, 
Miss Helen is there…still smiling…still dancing… 
Still dancing with me. 


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