Now, when he and I meet, after all these years,
I say to the bitch inside me, don’t start growling.
He isn’t a trespasser anymore,
Just an old acquaintance tipping his hat.
My voice says, “Nice to see you,”
As the bitch starts to bark hysterically.
He isn’t an enemy now,
Where are your manners, I say, as I say,
“How are the children? They must be growing up.”
At a kind word from him, a look like the old days,
The bitch changes her tone; she begins to whimper.
She wants to snuggle up to him, to cringe.
Down, girl! Keep your distance
Or I’ll give you a taste of the choke-chain.
“Fine, I’m just fine,” I tell him.
She slobbers and grovels.
After all, I am her mistress. She is basically loyal.
It’s just that she remembers how she came running
Each evening, when she heard his step;
How she lay at his feet and looked up adoringly
Though he was absorbed in his paper;
Or, bored with her devotion, ordered her to the kitchen
Until he was ready to play.
But the small careless kindnesses
When he’d had a good day, or a couple of drinks,
Come back to her now, seem more important
Than the casual cruelties, the ultimate dismissal.
“It’s nice to know you are doing so well,” I say.
He couldn’t have taken you with him;
You were too demonstrative, too clumsy,
Not like the well-groomed pets of his new friends.
“Give my regards to your wife,” I say. You gag
As I drag you off by the scruff,
Saying, “Goodbye! Goodbye! Nice to have seen you again.”
Carolyn Kizer, “Bitch” from Mermaids in the Basement. Copyright © 1984 by Carolyn Kizer. Copper Canyon Press.
5 thoughts on ““Bitch” by Carolyn Kizer”
I love this! Love her voice.
Thanks Susan, I love her voice too. That inner dialogue…that awkward relatable scene…that thinking one thing and saying another….ooph.
I have another of hers planned for this weekend. Totally different voice and subject matter.
Hope all is well with the fam! I’ve been a big zero on the blogs, but I sure love seeing your beautiful Instagram photos! xoxo
Sent from my iPhone
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Not sure what mysterious algorithm WordPress uses to refer to older “related posts,” but I’d say they are related and that’s why you have “likes” from me on some way-old posts today. It’s funny, or not, isn’t it, how the painful subjects often translate into the best writing?
Soooo good! Oomph… Longing for the days when inner dialog matches the words spewing from my mouth. Making progress – one of the benefits of being an old bitch 😜
Oh Carolyn Kizer, so delightfully funny and true
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