St. Vitus Day by Julie Carter

St. Vitus Day

for Chuck

He danced at my father’s funeral, his arms
asway from the buckled down shoulders hunching
and I sat beside him felt my muscles twinge
to the beat of that dance, the hallelujah
of hands not wild in the air. Some rhythms beg

you to dance, to stir in your chair, or just let your toe
bob along the ground like a sparrow.
Something tugs the middle of your limbs,
reels you out of the grieving water, gasping,
as that man flaps and claps and shuffles

a brain-bitten kumbayah. Oh he danced
and the rows before him swayed to his sway,
and the rows behind him swayed. And the priest
kept his shoulders rigid behind the altar,
his legs Riverdancing beneath the cassock.

He danced at my father’s funeral. I danced
at his, sashaying left, right, a Pip shining
in the reflection from his casket, his closed
casket, closed so no one could see him
boogie-oogie-oogie into the ground.

by Julie Carter

Editor’s Note: St. Vitus is the patron saint of entertainers and epileptics. Somehow, this poem sidesteps the weighty historical context and reintroduces us to the joy that can be had in the midst of grief.


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