On Trying to Explain A Friend’s Divorce to My Young Son In The Kitchen One Morning
Why? he says while working away at a tiny piece of toast and a vast mountain of jam.
They just weren’t getting along is probably the best way to explain it, I guess, I mutter,
And then for the next few minutes, as I perform the coffee ablutions and he guzzles jam
And neither of us says a word, I think of all the words that could be said but will not be,
Affair and recrimination and despair and arguments and shrieking and weeping and lies,
And kids and counselor and house and pain and contract and money and rights and law,
And visitation and separation and tears and grief and disbursement and death of warmth,
And all the other words now packed in boxes, joy and babies and laughter and promises,
All the hard work between them, all those dishes washed, all those nights with sick kids,
All those days side by side silent in the garden, and one hands the other a bottle of beer
Without a word, and the other grins, and they sit for a moment watching hawks overhead,
All the lines of conversation they finished for each other at diners with friends, all those
Hours driving when nothing needed to be said because each knew the other well enough
So that she would turn the radio louder just when she senses he was weary at the wheel,
All the times he did what he did not want to do because he knew it would mean so much,
All the mornings when neither was awake but neither was asleep and the hours were rife
With small pains and great promise, when no matter what broke they would figure it out.
They just weren’t getting along, is probably the best way to explain it, I say again quietly,
And my son, a subtle and intelligent soul, finishes his mountain of jam and disappears.
~ Brian Doyle