In Praise of Their Divorce

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.
From Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty. Copyright © 2010 by Tony Hoagland. Used with permission of Graywolf Press.

Poems by This Author

Coming and Going by Tony Hoagland
My marriage ended in an airport long ago.
I Have News for You by Tony Hoagland
There are people who do not see a broken playground swing
Jet by Tony Hoagland
Sometimes I wish I were still out
Lucky by Tony Hoagland
If you are lucky in this life,
Quiet by Tony Hoagland
Prolonged exposure to death
Reading Moby-Dick at 30,000 Feet by Tony Hoagland
At this height, Kansas
Reasons To Survive November by Tony Hoagland
The Change by Tony Hoagland
The season turned like the page of a glossy fashion magazine

Further Reading

Poems About Breakups and Divorce
"To Speak of Woe That Is in Marriage"
by Robert Lowell
The Aeneid, Book IV, [So, you traitor]
by Virgil
A Book Of Music
by Jack Spicer
After Love
by Sara Teasdale
Apart (Les Séparés)
by Louis Simpson
Chaos Is the New Calm
by Wyn Cooper
Coming and Going
by Tony Hoagland
by Karen Leona Anderson
Dear Miss Emily
by James Galvin
Donal Óg
by Isabella Augusta, Lady Gregory
Family Reunion
by Jeredith Merrin
Footprint on Your Heart
by Gary Lenhart
Good Night
by Wilhelm Müller
Heart's Needle
by W. D. Snodgrass
I May After Leaving You Walk Quickly or Even Run
by Matthea Harvey
Man and Wife
by Robert Lowell
Multiple Man: Guest-starring me & you
by Gary Jackson
One Art
by Elizabeth Bishop
by Katie Peterson
by Catherine Bowman
by Christina Rossetti
by Jason Schneiderman
The Gift
by Sara Teasdale
The Primer
by Christina Davis
The Vampire Bride [I am come—I am come!]
by Henry Thomas Liddell
This Was Once a Love Poem
by Jane Hirshfield
To Earthward
by Robert Frost
When We Two Parted
by George Gordon Byron
Poems about Divorce
Coming and Going
by Tony Hoagland
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Failing and Flying
by Jack Gilbert
Family Reunion
by Jeredith Merrin
Good Night
by Wilhelm Müller
Hey Allen Ginsberg Where Have You Gone and What Would You Think of My Drugs?
by Rachel Zucker
by Carl Sandburg
by Melissa Stein
The World as Seen Through a Glass of Ice Water
by Dobby Gibson
Why should a foolish marriage vow
by John Dryden