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Man and Wife

Tamed by Miltown, we lie on Mother's bed;
the rising sun in war paint dyes us red;
in broad daylight her gilded bed-posts shine,
abandoned, almost Dionysian.
At last the trees are green on Marlborough Street, blossoms on our magnolia ignite the morning with their murderous five days' white.
All night I've held your hand, as if you had a fourth time faced the kingdom of the mad-- its hackneyed speech, its homicidal eye-- and dragged me home alive.
Oh my Petite, clearest of all God's creatures, still all air and nerve: you were in our twenties, and I, once hand on glass and heart in mouth, outdrank the Rahvs in the heat of Greenwich Village, fainting at your feet-- too boiled and shy and poker-faced to make a pass, while the shrill verve of your invective scorched the traditional South.
Now twelve years later, you turn your back.
Sleepless, you hold your pillow to your hollows like a child; your old-fashioned tirade-- loving, rapid, merciless-- breaks like the Atlantic Ocean on my head.

by Robert Lowell
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