Canary

By Rita Dove b. 1952 Rita Dove

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.

Rita Dove, “Canary” from Grace Notes. Copyright © 1989 by Rita Dove. Reprinted with the permission of W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. This selection may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Source: Grace Notes (1989)

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Poet Rita Dove b. 1952

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Music, Love, Relationships, Arts & Sciences

Poetic Terms Free Verse