The poetic city: “Visiting Miss Helen: Bearing the Guilt 11/27/12”

Miss Helen doing her thing. (Photo provided by: Ann Mahorner)

Visiting Miss Helen: Bearing the Guilt    11/27/12


No matter how often I visit Miss Helen

it’s never enough.

No matter how much she enjoys our time together, 

there could always be more. 


When I have to go, she holds me with her eyes

and asks, “Are you leaving me?”

to which I reply, “Yes, but I will be back”

(but I don’t say “when”).


What would be the point when her time is timeless

and the difference between a day, a week, and a lifetime

is lost in the eternity of her present moment.


I must appear to her as an angel

From “the nowhere” I come; into “the nowhere” I disappear,

carrying with me my guilt knowing that I might have stayed longer, 

or could return sooner.

I have to trust

To go back again and again,

I have to trust that it is ok to let her return 

to whatever or wherever she goes when I am not around. 

Perhaps I flatter myself ...

Perhaps my absence doesn’t even register

until I return and she looks up, smiles,

and welcomes me back with surprise and delight,

not even remembering that I was ever gone.

In this I must trust, so that I can come and go

bearing the guilt of leaving her to her fate

as I embrace my own.


© Reece Burka 2/1/2019


Editor’s Note: In honor of poetry month, we are publishing one poem from the series, “A Suite for Miss Helen,” by Reece Burka. This poetry series tells of the vibrant and beautiful Miss Helen, who had a dancing spirit. You can read the whole series here as well as come back each day in April for the newest poem. 



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