22 MAY 1964, Page 24

Death of a Marriage

Right from the start the taste of love was less Than wholly sweet, smirched with a bitterness That sometimes made him shudder like a man Who sees the sudden jaws of menace open And sickens at the reek that gags his throat: The vileness that he tasted was in fact The flavour of his fear; he feared the insect On humming mission to contaminate The unprotected food that she might eat; He feared love's venom and its antidote.

He also feared the big white hunter who On sexual safari hunted through The hot but leafless jungle of the town, Whose training and equipment mocked his own, Made him ashamed of his indifferent kit; It seemed one such would track her down for sure, Bring back her lively kicking for his pleasure, Enjoy her sweet accomplishments, then throw Her body to the wolves, or to a fellow Hunter who would find a use for it.

They married, and their marriage was not hurt By other men or microbes at their sport, Nor did barbed years nor blindfold accident Mangle her flesh. They always paid the rent, And yet, though in one house, they live apart. He hunts for cause, then helplessly refers To tiny torments swelling through the years— Lids not replaced, the water never hot, Lost keys, burnt toast—the whole ironic plot To smother fear, and snipe love through the heart.