The old black crone beside the fire Will be awake this Friday night,
Honing an axe—honing, honing—
And a West Indian melody intoning.
For Saturday will bring at early light The wagons with the chickens from the farm,
And she will taste the last of all delight Killing; killing chickens in the court,
The old, dark granny’s only sport—
The axe and twitching bodies, and the blood Upon her hands, splashes on her face like mud From thick, volcanic springs still warm.
Tonight she takes the clay pipe from her hair—
And lights it by the faggots’ orange glare,
Sucking the rank tobacco and the midnight air—
This old West Indian crone—
Drooling, droning, feeling the axe along,
Crooning, moaning an old, old song.
Ah, sweet to take another being’s breath 1 So near the grave,
To prove herself alive by dealing death.
To hear the sodden chop, chop, chop,
To see the headless bodies flap and flop—
The piteous chuckling and the chortling Of her victims and the thrill Of the axe, and the flash,
And the flap, flap—plop— And the rows of feathered bodies lying still!
“Ah-eee,” she sings and she sighs,
Listening to the mating of the cats, and the cries Of the owls, and the ring Of the axe that she fingers With the touch of the harpist when he lingers On the last high note—
That is rising in her throat—
She could sing to the axe, she could sing!