The poetic city: A Suite for Miss Helen, First Visit 7/4/12

Editor’s Note: In honor and anticipation of poetry month (in April), we will be telling the story of Miss Helen, dancing, and New Orleans through Reece Burka’s tribute poems to her. We will run a poem each week and then a poem a day in April. You can follow the full series here

Miss Helen and Reece dancing. (Photo by: Richard Eager)

A Suite for Miss Helen: First Visit   7/4/12  

You are sitting with the old ones now …

Now that the body has given out and the mind set adrift …

you sit in your wheelchair watching tv, passing time,

waiting, waiting, waiting for something long forgotten. 

You don’t remember that you could dance all night

and make others want to dance too,

so light on your feet, so taken by the muse.

You don’t remember how you changed my life

the first time we moved together, so perfectly in tune …

not teaching, but showing the dance already in me

yearning to come out.

I delight you when I tell you these things.

But I am not sure you believe me …

as  if I am telling you about a dream …

as  if I am talking about someone else

when I tell you how you pleaded with Pops

to come back to us and play one last time ….

How did you do it, Miss Helen? 

How did you convince him

when he said he wouldn’t?

How I wish I could ask you now! 

But you are leaving us …

I can see you gliding back home. 

You may not remember me

but your eyes light up when

I bring the memories to you.

And, you tell me, “that it’s good”.

And I agree “that it’s good …”

So good, so very good indeed!

© Reece Burka 2/1/2019


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