Dancing with Miss Helen: In Purgatory 9/2/12
Fearing the magic was gone, preparing for the worst,
I gird, wince, and enter the purgatory of
Miss Helen’s place in time.
I pick my way between the wheelchairs
to Helen’s spot before the television.
As images flicker across the big screen
making no sense to those who watch,
I stoop to announce my presence
and ask Miss Helen to dance once again.
Looking uncertain, but always polite,
she gives me permission to be wheeled
from the room into the light …
Then she bows her head so I can place
the magic buds in her ears giving me hope
that our last chance to dance is still in the offing.
At first, she seems indifferent …
The music brings movement but no emphasis.
Her groove is limp; her attention wanders.
Trying to extract meaning from the mundane
she looks around the room and makes comments
about what she can no longer understand.
Then she gives up the struggle and signals
her surrender with a shrug …
Falling back into resignation she takes with her
my hope that we can stave off the inevitable
just one more time.
Then mysteriously the music takes hold
and she bites into the beat.
With shoulder shimmies and head struts
she crosses the boundary from self to other
and we break new ground dancing once again.
Knowing that each time may be the last
makes each time a blessing …
And I wonder how I became so lucky
to have become an instrument of Miss Helen’s karma.
© Reece Burka 2/1/2019