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.