Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 260
Carolyn Kizer's poem Bitch is about a woman—the speaker—who runs into someone with whom she had a previous relationship. The other person is unnamed and is simply referred to as "he." The fact that the speaker refers to the person as "he" and not by name or by a title implies intimacy and that the speaker may still have feelings for this person.
Throughout the poem, the speaker has to confront the feelings that arise upon seeing this other person. The title of the poem takes on a metaphorical meaning and is used throughout the poem to establish the dualities of the speaker. On one hand, she is still like a subservient creature to the old acquaintance. On the other hand, she is a disagreeable woman.
At first the speaker is angry about seeing this acquaintance. All of the mean feelings bubble up and the speaker has to try to keep those from reaching the surface. "I say to the bitch inside me, don't start growling."
But then after the other person says something nice to the speaker and looks at her in the way like he had in "the old days," the bitch inside her softens. Again, the speaker has to keep the feelings in check. "Down, girl! Keep your distance."
Kizer writes this poem with a creative style so that in this one poem there are three different forms of communication occurring:
1) What the speaker says to "he"
2) What the speaker says to the "bitch" (her inner self)
3) What the speaker says to us, the readers