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The place where was their marriage is a one-time battle zone
to which sometimes the former combatants return
for there are children
therefore money conversations, visiting arrangements, school occasions,
in the teen years an emergency from time to time —
a motor accident, or drugs.

The former combatants approach the place, and aim to be correct,
to stick to practicalities
but then a chance remark misunderstood renews old anger;
battle is rejoined.
The combatants can’t help themselves.
Some outer force, they feel, provokes this reflex of destructiveness;
the need in each to do the greater hurt

until banality restores their manners.
One or other needs to go.
A child is waiting in the car
so they conclude their necessary business, and withdraw.

Resettlement of shifted dust.
The battle zone is neither less nor more
a site of desolation than before.

Audio file

Listen to this poem — read by Peter Hetherington