In Praise of Their Divorce

by Tony Hoagland

And when I heard about the divorce of my friends,
I couldn’t help but be proud of them,

that man and that woman setting off in different directions,
like pilgrims in a proverb

—him to buy his very own toaster oven,
her seeking a prescription for sleeping pills.

Let us keep in mind the hidden forces
which had struggled underground for years

to push their way to the surface—and that finally did,
cracking the crust, moving the plates of earth apart,

releasing the pent-up energy required
for them to rent their own apartments,

for her to join the softball league for single mothers
for him to read George the Giraffe over his speakerphone

at bedtime to the six-year-old.

The bible says, Be fruitful and multiply

but is it not also fruitful to subtract and to divide?
Because if marriage is a kind of womb,

divorce is the being born again;
alimony is the placenta one of them will eat;

loneliness is the name of the wet-nurse;
regret is the elementary school;

endurance is the graduation.
So do not say that they are splattered like dropped lasagna

or dead in the head-on collision of clichés
or nailed on the cross of their competing narratives.

What is taken apart is not utterly demolished.
It is like a great mysterious egg in Kansas

that has cracked and hatched two big bewildered birds.
It is two spaceships coming out of retirement,

flying away from their dead world,
the burning booster rocket of divorce
falling off behind them,

the bystanders pointing at the sky and saying, Look.

One thought on “In Praise of Their Divorce

  1. John says:

    This made me weep with equal parts grief and joy. My ex-wife struggled with a deeply repressed condition that swirled up in waves of confusion and finally broke the surface, causing destruction and devastation to our marriage but in the wake came peace just as deep as the repression had been. I am still wandering the wreckage of our marriage, making those awful beautiful speakerphone calls to my children when they’re with her in her tiny condo down the hill, and when we hang up I shrivel up alone in bed, but when I remember the roiling churning she endured for years, not knowing what was inside her trying to come out, and when I see the deep peace in her beautiful brown eyes and body with muscle back on her bones, I cry for joy.

    Like

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