Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A Poem for My Ex

On New Year's Eve day, my ex and I had a ritual of divorce. It was sad and powerful and beautiful. We each had two witnesses with us. We shared Scriptures and prayer, we offered our regrets and asked and received forgiveness, we shared our gratitudes, we shared our intentions to move forward in friendship and mutual care and to always put our son first. We held a rope between us and spoke words of release to each other and then had a friend cut the rope, freeing us to move forward into the future with love and joy. We held each other and bawled like babies.

In honor of the man with whom I shared 15 years of my life, with whom I grew up and learned how to love and learned some of my limits of loving, to the man who is a wonderful father to our beautiful boy, I offer this poem, with sincere hope that he finds love again.

"I Love the Way Men Crack" by Ellen Bass, from Mules of Love, Vol. 1.

I love the way men crack
open when their wives leave them,
their sheaths curling back like the split
shells of roasted chestnuts, exposing
the sweet creamy meat. They call you
and unburden their hearts the way a woman
takes off her jewels, the heavy
pendant earrings, the stiff lace gown and corset,
and slips into a loose kimono.
It's like you've both had a couple shots
of really good scotch and snow is falling
in the cone of light under the street lamp—
large slow flakes that float down in the amber glow.

They tell you all the pain pressed into their flat chests,
their disappointed penises, their empty hands.
As they sift through the betrayals and regrets,
their shocked realization of how hard they tried,
they way they shouldered the yoke
with such stupid good faith—
they grow younger and younger. They cry
with the unselfconciousness of children.
When they hug you, they cling.
Like someone who's needed glasses for a long time—
and finally got them-they look around
just for the pleasure of it: the detail,
the sharp edges of what the world has to offer.

And when they fall in love again, it only gets better.
Their hearts are stuffed full as ├ęclairs
and the custard oozes out at a touch.
They love her, they love you, they love everyone.
They drag out all the musty sorrows and joys
from the basement where they've been shoved
with mitts and coin collections. They tell you
things they've never told anyone.
Fresh from loving her, they come glowing
like souls slipping into the bodies
of babies about to be born.

Then a year goes by. Or two.
Like broken bones, they knit back together.
They grow like grass and bushes and trees
after a forest fire, covering the seared earth.
They landscape the whole thing, plant like mad
and spend every weekend watering and weeding.


more cows than people said...


on the ritual.


on the poem.


blessings in 2008.

Wormwood's Doxy said...

LJ---what a beautiful thing. I could be envious if I didn't understand the sadness that underlies it all.

May God bless you both--and the beautiful boy too. Two such generous hearts deserve to be happy.

Ruth said...

What a wise thing to do! Your new year will susprise you, I think, when you've welcomed it so powerfully. May Way open.

Kirstin said...


pj said...

There is something very powerful in a simple, concrete gesture.

((((you & son & ex [& Sandy]))))

Here's to the crisp, blank sheet of paper that is the New Year!

mompriest said... sad...

Blessings for you this year...

Diane said...

Wow from me, too.

your ritual was so powerful, and your thoughts and poem so... well, wow.

Jan said...

How wise and mature you and your ex-husband are. That ritual sounds like a lasting memory and a releasing one. I heard this poem on the radio today--thank you for the words.

klady said...

I read this in the morning and did not know what to say. It has been with me all day, both the ritual and the poem -- both so very powerful. Thank you for writing about it. I hope and pray you will both find peace and happiness.

Jane R said...

LJ, beautiful and sad and beautiful beautiful and thank you for sharing it with us.

You may remember that Bishop Gene Robinson (long before he was bishop) had a ritual with his now ex wife where they released each other in a similar way. Very healthy and holy.

Thank you also for your witness.

And I think your son will thank you for this, thank you both, even if it's years from now.

Blessings in this new year. The earth holds hidden tiny green shoots of life for you.

lj said...

Thanks, everybody. The next ritual I need to work on is a house blessing, to start fresh in this place to which we moved 18 months ago. And then some kind of ritual for my son. That one is trickier. Thoughts and ideas are welcome.

Cecilia said...

lj this made me weep.

I wish I had this kind of closure.

Pax, C.

Lauralew said...

What a wonderful thing to do, have a ritual. That places it in the proper perspective.

I just heard the poem you cited on the Writers' Almanac. How cool that you could embrace it here.

(My computer has been broken so I'm a bit behind on my blogs as well.)

Peace be with you, and enjoy the possibilities of the New Year!

eileen said...

(((((LJ)))))) I'm glad for this for you both...sad it was necessary, but very glad it was possible. May God's healing grace descend on you both...