Aug 272011

Because I am old and refuse my death
I have been bitter and I've been kind;
Skeletal bitterness my enmities shook,
Kindness flowed from head to foot.
But of all those wind-gaunt faces
I have worn as if strapped in the traces
I most adore the look
Of an old withered apple, its withdrawn glance,
All sweetness concentrated
To an unrelenting taste:
    An old bitten rind, bitten rind.

But because I am bitter
And dislike the taste
Of joys overblown in any wind
I have come to sing in the waste
Of an old bitten rind:
"Bitten rind, bitten time,
Under stars or under sky
The right emotion of a dirty crook
Has nobleness to bless or curse,
Confirm or rescind the pledge
Made by our bodies as they lie
Under this dirty hedge."
    An old bitten rind, bitten rind.

Having tasted thus
The fruit of an obscure look
Or the sharp meaning of a song
Under dull words in a book
I laugh at all awhile
And I myself forsake;
For nothing's worth the riddle
And no man's worth his wake,
I stole a blind man's fiddle
And sing what I forsake.
    An old bitten rind, bitten rind.

I have nothing but am a queen:
Monstrosities sworn must heel
Forced by a hand unseen
As dog to its master's whistle wheels.
And although I am a great queen
With stars on my fingers for rings
And although I dance like a drunk
And with the seen and unseen wink
I am driven by passion to sing:
    An old bitten rind, bitten rind.

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