There is a little girl happy at La Casita
See her compose her dance as the band
Launches a jibaro tune from Old San Juan
Watch her smile rise and her little legs
Loop before the stage’s apron. She’s
The grace note, the sweet dream of
Manny Vega’s phantasmagorical temple
To community: the laughter, the dominoes
The courting couples, the elders resting
The garden fertile with peppers, squash
And greens from around the globe.
–Patricia Spears Jones
I wrote this poem after performing at La Casita, the annual summer celebration of community, poetry, music and dance resulting from Manny Vega (the artist) and his friend’s celebration of the gardens and meeting places that seemed to spontaneously develop in Puerto Rican neighborhoods throughout New York City–the little house, la casita was a place where the old and young could talk and sing and play dominoes and bond. Each year the curators pull together poets and musicians and performers to present work and this year I had the honor of reading in Hearst Plaza at Lincoln Center. And that little girl who danced her 2-3 year old girl’s dance represented for all the audience. She is a reminder that there is joy in this city; that children are loved; that artists make new and important work; that the sun shines for the artists on a day when rain was threatened. I was not well enough to hear all of the performers, but I left as Persian music (including poems by Rumi) was being performed by Haleh. It comes from a great tradition as did the Puerto Rican music the little girl so loved and its spirits helps me, all of us hold on.