This sonnet is written to an “Old friend” who “chose a [different] path” to the speaker. Each quatrain is sculpted around a different metaphor: the first is a damaged heart developing a crusty “shell”; the second a turncoat switching loyalty; the third two journeys heading in different directions.
All three quatrains accusatory – with the speaker blaming the addressee for pain that “twisted” their “spirit”. In the capping couplet, however, the speaker admits their “fate was earned”.
Burnt Old friend, your shoulder frost bit at my heart Turned red flesh black at its extremities: A crust that hardened as we moved apart; A shell of gnarly bark from aged oak trees. Before you turned your jacket inside out I thought we marched with uniformity But when your lining treachery did tout My spirit twisted to deformity. You chose a path that would not meet with mine You took a bearing I could not pursue I knew not then how that call would define My willingness to seek close friends anew. Although your ice has left my fingers burned I got what I deserved; my fate was earned.