1. Canary

    for Michael S. Harper

    Billie Holiday’s burned voice
    had as many shadows as lights,
    a mournful candelabra against a sleek piano,
    the gardenia her signature under that ruined face.

    (Now you’re cooking, drummer to bass,
    magic spoon, magic needle.
    Take all day if you have to
    with your mirror and your bracelet of song.)

    Fact is, the invention of women under siege
    has been to sharpen love in the service of myth.

    If you can’t be free, be a mystery.

    By Rita Dove.