at three years old when girls played with dolls
she mastered the onyx and pearly keys
crossing those railway tracks
on her a journey to become
the first black female classical pianist
but poverty and racism became the antagonist
that strangled her sparkling dream
that dream died but her dignity
remained intact at her soul’s seams
with the petals of a human being,
a human being with petals a woman,
a woman with petals a black being
her dignity intact she refused to kneel
driven by her love affair with the piano
told that her dream was only a shadow
music birthed from her fingers
her contralto filled the air and lingered
she put a spell on the people
mesmerized they came to her steeple
listened to her pepper pot
of blues, jazz and folk
they all devoured every note
they all came to worship and behold
the high priestess of soul.

Her life detoured from the stardom track
when Medgar Evers was shot in his back
and the atrocities in Alabama
that happened on bloody Sunday
she became a civil right attaché
she used her music to fight the venom
her contralto transformed into a political weapon
her songs Revolution, Mississippi God Dam and Strange Fruit
tried to remove Jim Crow from society’s roots
the mesmerized people faded away
no fame, accolades and money for her to display
they broke her records that broke her heart
she sacrificed her career for this path
she climbed so many mountains
and until her final curtain
she was not able to master
the onyx and alabaster
keys of the USA.