A Bitter End

Monday, we went over “Bitterness” by Virgil Suarez, and how his memory, the power it has what it creates, and its complexity of control is evoked through the turn from his father slaughtering horses to him violently raping his mother.

This poem’s dark confession has lingered with me since our class discussion, Suarez’s turn in particular.

[In his last three stanzas]:

“The room fills with the small noises… the cleaver falls and cuts through the skin,           tears through the flesh, crushes the bone, and then there is the blood.                                  All that blood. It emerges and collects on the slaughter tables, the blood of countless

horses. Sleep upon me, I see my father stand by the sink  in our Havana house patio.       He scrubs and rinses his hands. The blood whirls and dissolves                                        slowly in the water. Once again I summon the courage to go ahead and ask him

how much horse meat it takes to appease the hunger of a single lion.”

Within the major turn of symbolism (his mother becoming the fallen horse and his father the lion), Suarez intertwines turns of emotional complexities.  The first emotional twist begins with “and then there is the blood. All that blood. It emerges and collects on the slaughter tables, the blood of countless horses”, he moves from the rape of his mother to this hatred and sense of pity for his father. Hatred for what he has become, but pity on him for how the butchering of horses has taken away his humanity.

The second turn is solemn understanding, where he dreams his father washing away all of the blood, as if he knows his true father, behind the broken man,  is remorseful his actions.

Lastly it ends on regret and anger for the poet’s current self. Wishing he had asked his father how much horse meat it takes to appease the hunger of a single lion. Angry that he did not stick up for his mother.

 

What other emotional twists did in “Bitterness” lingered with you?

 

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