William Vlach

Writing

Elegy

Elegy

for Helen Ernst née Julius

There were many Helens:
Daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, niece, cousin, friend, educator, leader

One Helen, the earliest—
Her name—Eléni
Granddaughter of
the bringer of fire— Prometheus.
-efcharistó-
[Chorus] parakalo

There were many Helens—
Another one: beautiful Helen of Sparta,
absconded to Troy.
Many Helens…
-efcharistó-
[Chorus] parakalo

Our Helen—
Who watched her father
through the door window
as he lay dying
on the hospital bed-
The Great Flu pandemic.

Our Helen-
Who touched the bumps
on her Mani born
grandfather’s neck—
Bullets from The Balkan Wars.

Our Helen—
Who listened to Greek
music in the Napa orchard.
-efcharistó-
[Chorus] parakalo

Who held her baby brother
Who flirted as a Bobby Soxer

Who watched her brother
blow dandelions out over
The Carquinez Straights—
Missing his mother.
-efcharistó-
[Chorus] parakalo

Who studied at Cal
Who joined the service
Who fell in love
With a son of Cambridge
Who tried to rescue her baby brother
from violent war.
-efcharistó-
[Chorus] parakalo

Who proudly studied at Stanford.
Who wrapped packages
for the Greek children of war
-efcharistó-
[Chorus] parakalo

Who wanted to make things right,
at times intensely,
because she knew
what Chaos looks like,
feels like.

Who watched over her family
Who lost the man she loved
Who lost the brother she loved
Who welcomed a lost nephew
on Greek Easter.
-efcharistó-
[Chorus] parakalo

If we allow…

These Helens
are here, are now,
in this place, at this time.
There were many Helens
And yes, there are many Helens…
Here, now-

-efcharistó, Auntie Helen, theía mou, efcharistó
[Chorus] parakalo

#Elegy #poem #GreekAmerican #poetry

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