Poem From a Marriage’s Demise


The suddenly cavernous closet
sprawls in front of me and stops my breath,
as if a street sweeper has barreled through,
and not knowing me from a leaf from a blouse,
has sucked all into its maw, its dark convulsive dark.

A black stain on the door frame
catches my blurred wetting eye
(her coat? her dress? did she have a black dress?)
and I reach to touch it, curious, my head bumping
the now empty hangers, setting them to swinging.

Their echo crumples me.

Half a wall of racks and a long row of
shelves are mine to launch this new life,
and I should weep for the freedom wrought
by their purchase, which I would,
were the price not so colossal and fierce.

“In my beginning is my end,”
wrote a poet more profound than I;
I trust he had it backwards,
and an endless beginning can yet be mine—and hers, too—
beyond hangers swinging eerily after twenty-seven years.


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18 comments to Poem From a Marriage’s Demise

  • Dennis Ahern  says:

    Thirty years of lives
    Stacked in neat and tidy piles
    Autumn chill. Snow. Spring.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Lovely, Dennis. Thank you.

  • mary Graves  says:

    I love the poem Andrerw presented and I like the Haiku Dennis wrote. I like that it ends with spring. Good to always remember relationships will end, but their ending always opens new doors…if we are willing to peek inside. I too wrote a Haiku 30 years ago. Unike it being after a marriage, it was after a one year poorly matched romance. The pain was ubearable and out popped this Haiku:

    “Two souls merge,
    passion invites every urge,
    longing fills the vacant surge.”

    One difference here between Andrew’s and Dennis’s comments and mine is that they are describing long term meaningful marriage: 27 or 30 years. Their poems and Haiku’s are intelligent, mature, meloncholy, pensive. My Haiku, I now see in contrast, described drama, shallowness and lacked intelligence. My short, overly intense, uncommited relationship had no foundation beyond 2 dogs in heat, one that did not build 27-30 years of real life and real love.

    At least Dennis and Andrew can put a big bow around the package called “My amazing marriage” and be proud of what is was, forgive what it was not and let is take a key spot on their history and a back seat in their future. The end of a marraige does not mean it never existed. Married for 27 years is a great accomplishment. I believe some marriages are meant to be for 5 years, 10 years, 17 years or 30 years. Just because something does not last forever does not mean it is demised. Maybe it was successful at its destined 27 year life.

    All that said, I feel the pain of separation and I understand. I remember the song, ” One less egg to fry, I should be happy but all I do is cry”. Crying was good. Good to cry and cry …healthy grief. Crying can mean our hearts are opening, we are getting ready to love again.


  • Mark Marcarian  says:

    Theresa and I will always cherish being your friends and spending time with your family. Our thoughts are with you. Time for a beer.

  • loweb3  says:

    Sometimes “In a dark time/ the eye begins to see.” Surely not the way I felt after 17 years of my first marriage, but looking back there is some truth in Roethke’s insight.

  • Andrew Hidas  says:

    You’re too hard on yourself & your young haikuing, which I actually enjoyed quite a bit, Mary! But thank you for your thoughtful reflections and sense of perspective; acute insights all. Indeed, amidst the wrenching and the grief, I feel the success of having sustained a long marriage, and also feel great, ongoing regard for my wife. Even down there on your knees, you can see the ground stretching out in front of you.

    Mark, I know you share the profound sense of life appreciation I try to make manifest in this blog, and the joys of everyday life in the ‘hood. That beer sounds like just the tonic for these graying days.

    Loren, I think one could read Roethke through his dark times (and ours) every day of one’s life, and, indeed, he is almost never not on my nightstand. I don’t know how many hours of my life I have spent immersed in his “The Far Field,” but I consider every one of them well-spent.

  • Karen  says:

    You have always been a source of strength for me with your wisdom and brotherly-type advice. I hope in some way I can be there for you… a sounding board, a bit of silliness, a hot meal (not cooked by me of course). 27 years, hard to hang on to and hard to let go.

  • Tamara  says:

    Andrew – you are so very wise. Thank you for sharing. I am here … anytime… to talk, cry or laugh. HUGS!

  • Kevin Feldman  says:

    Brave, vulnerable, and intimate my dear friend – appreciate the poem and the lovely/insightful responses from the Hidas blogosphere. Your willingness to so poetically share your experience opens the doors for readers to reflect on our experiences in new ways – a real gift my friend…

  • Andrew Hidas  says:

    Karen, I am in there with every one of those offers, all equally vital to well-being. And your last line fingers the human dilemma in these and similar matters perfectly; thank you.

    Tamara, I like those options, too!

    Kevin, had to do a lot of internal wrestling on whether to talk about this in this venue; finally realized if I have a blog committed to exploring important & relevant aspects of being human, I could hardly choose to ignore this. So had to take a really big breath and proceed. I’m happy if it helps get you reflecting in turn.

  • Walt  says:

    An excellent emotional topography, Andrew. Your pain, regret and, yes, hope are shared with us all. I wish I’d had the wit and wisdom to write such when my divorce occurred 35 years ago. It would have taken some (not all) of the sting.
    As it was I sailed my Chinese junk frantically south from SF hoping to talk things out. As we sailed by La Jolla, I turned it over to my sailing buddy and dove over the side to squish my way up the quiet streets to be greeted by…yes…..empty closets and those lonely lonely hangers. We remembered the same symbols of loss from this all-too-common event.
    You have always advised me well. I am there for you, no matter what happens.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Great image of sailing frantically away, away there, Walt. Brings to mind Nick Carraway’s sober reflection in the last line of The Great Gatsby: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

      And there that past is, richly informing who we are even as we paddle on seeking a favorable current. I feel fortunate that we can float together in the ways we occasionally do.

  • Terry  says:

    Andrew, I’m Kevin’s friend, Terry. I wrote a poem years ago at the end of my 17-year marriage that I hadn’t thought about for a long time, until I read your poem. Thanks for sharing that with all of us. Here’s the one I wrote:

    A Year Ago Today

    A year ago today
    I came home and you were gone.
    I knew you would be,
    Yet still hoped secretly for reprieve.
    I opened that familiar door
    And stood on unfamiliar ground,
    In darkness,

    For an eternity it seemed,
    I clung to thoughts of us together,
    Cried as memories paraded by,
    And dreamed haunting dreams of you at night.
    I stumbled through a self-made fog
    Bereft of landmarks and adrift,
    Demonized by blame and guilt,
    Looking for safe passage,
    Looking for myself.

    What changed all this, I’m not sure.
    Purging those angry demons
    In the thin Mt. Shasta air?
    Watching shifting shades of emerald green
    On Montana’s old Mill Creek?
    Finding peace as rainbows splashed
    From a sun-drenched forest waterfall?
    Not one of them, perhaps, but all.

    Beauty sprung up everywhere:
    In a stranger’s gleeful laugh,
    In a wind chime’s breezy tune,
    In a rain storm’s aftermath,
    In a rhododendron’s bloom,
    In a monarch butterfly,
    In a crystal’s prismed light,
    In a desert’s starry sky,
    In an eagle’s soaring flight.

    Appreciation washes over me
    With thoughts of you
    And the journey’s precious gift;
    I’ve come to know the joy of life,
    And to love myself along the way.
    I never thought I’d be here now
    A year ago today.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Ah, Terry, perspective! I won’t say I can’t wait for that year to lapse, given that the years are going by much too quickly as it is, but I do appreciate this reminder on the healing balm that time brings, and your poetic reflection on it. Many thanks for plumbing and sharing these depths of yourself.

  • Meredith Garmon  says:

    The “poet more profound than I” did have it backwards. And also had it right.

  • Amy Zucker Morgenstern  says:

    The death of a marriage is so much like the death of a person. Wishing you comfort and healing, and grateful to what you’ve offered others here.

  • Andrew Hidas  says:

    Meredith, that is part of Eliot’s profundity: that he could have it both backwards and right. He was a closet Buddhist, I think, born in a slightly wrong place and time.

    Amy, I often think of a relationship as the third person in the middle of the two who are joined, with its own life and identity, so that when it is severed, the individuals survive but that third “person” suffers a perhaps more grievous wound. On the flip side, when things are great between the two individuals, oh, the third person just soars far beyond what the individuals bring to the mix.

  • pat wilson  says:

    Andrew, I’m so sorry to read this. I hope that you will be able to stay friends as well as Dakota’s parents, separate but in it together. I love all 3 of you.

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