the mixed marriage
My father was a servant-boy.
When he left school at eight or nine
He took up billhook and loy
To win the ground he would never own.
My mother was the school-mistress,
The world of Castor and Pollux.
There were twins in her own class.
She could never tell which was which.
She had read one volume of Proust,
He knew the cure for farcy.
I flitted between a hole in the hedge
And a room in the Latin Quarter.
When she had cleared the supper-table
She opened The Acts of the Apostles,
Aesop’s Fables, Gulliver’s Travels.
Then my mother went on upstairs
And my father further dimmed the light
To get back to hunting with ferrets
Or the factions of the faction-fights,
The Ribbon Boys, the Caravats.