"God Bless the Child" ( though yours was a lone blessing, if that, even- or was it just an unexpected key, with which to unlock stifling doors...?) And, "Mama may have, papa may have" but yours didn't, they hadn't nothing worthy to give you- girl child born in 1915 Philadelphia and on the proverbial "wrong side of the tracks" add to that- poor, uneducated, and black your daddy some say was a no-account, a musician like you, he was absent (of course) -while others say "unknown." And mama broken like you, though still in her teens... What legacy could they possibly give nothing, none at all- 'nutin but the trouble that was your lifelong intimate... It was a birthright of lack and of shame - all yours, that, and your given name Eleanora sounding all sweet, and elegant though your life was anything but. And even the later moniker, "Lady Day" implied cheeriness, light bespoke nothing of the darkness into which you'd plunge. And, "Canary" songstress surely, jazz diva but what of the cage? that voice though, your only miracle yet some called it raspy, fragile- it was one of a kind a sob really, bemoaning a bitter love tragic and treacherous it bore no honeyed sweetness just echoes of the needle's hypnotic numbing. It was your voice by which you'd rise from out the brothels where your own mama led you... Yes, you'd go far catching a glimpse of the life of which you surely dreamed yearned, for so desperately. You sang at Carnegie Hall, rubbed elbows with the luminaries of your age but even that couldn't remove the taint of abuse, addiction... Ever present those memories of the sordid roads down which they dragged you, dancing on the razor's edge song was your only safety net- inadequate it couldn't save you... And what of the white gardenia? such a sharp contrast to the blood red poppy- fleur du mal (flower of evil) that killed you... Gardenia wholesome and pure symbol of the innocence so long ago lost but ever desired, deserved... And I wonder, how many women (and girls) still share your fate- (though without the fame) and how many females (of all colors and classes) are sentenced for destruction- to end in obscurity? for Lady, even midst all your pain you stood on the stage, heard applause and your music, unforgettable, is still being played... Yet for you, history tells us- it just wasn't enough.
© azure warrior
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