I listened this weekend to Etta James' Mystery Lady: Songs of Billie Holiday and it put me in mind of Corneilius Eady's poem about Billie Holiday. I love the anguish of this poem. The wish to take back sadness and pain, to change the course of history. And the realization that, like it or not, our histories--where we come from and the things we go through--shape who we are. They shape what we bring to the world.
by Cornelius Eady
The trouble is, you can never take
That flower from Billie's hair.
She is always walking too fast
and try as we might,
there's no talking her into slowing.
Don't go down into that basement,
we'd like to scream. What will it take
to bargain her blues,
To retire that term when it comes
to her? But the grain and the cigarettes,
the narcs and the fancy-dressed boys,
the sediment in her throat.
That's the soil those petals spring from,
Like a fist, if a fist could sing.