Billie Holiday


and did it frighten you
that stench in the dark heart of the flower
you pinned behind your ear

and did your skull eat out through your beauty
every time they pressed their faces in you
seeing in your drowning face how their flesh collapsed inside you
and how the pure note hardened like a child
and wouldn’t give in you
even after everything was given

from The Common Flesh: Poems 1980-2002 (Arc Publications, 2003), © Alison Croggon 2003, used by permission of the author

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