Sunday, March 3, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: DIVORCE

Dykes family wedding, 1979
(fuzzy, faceless...much like
my memory of the "divorce" days)
For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.

I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?
In January I wrote about: apron, bar, basketball, bed, bicycle, birthday, boat, broom, button, cake, car.

In February: chair, chlorine, church, concert, cookbook, couch, dancing, desk, dessert, dining room table, diploma.

Here are March's prompts: divorce, door, dream, emergency room, envelope, eyebrows, first apartment, first job, food, game, garden.


Wow, this word brings up a lot for me -- not a lot of specific memories, but a belly-full of feelings. My parents divorced when I was 6, got remarried when 8, then divorced again shortly after I was grown and out of the house. This impacted me in ways I am still discovering.
While they were divorced the first time, my mom took a second job as a bus driver. (She was a teacher.) We got free lunch. My mom dated other men. Meanwhile, when we visited my father at his apartment on the weekends, he fed us spaghettios straight out of the can. (He didn't cook.) He took us to Cypress Gardens and Busch Gardens – all the fun things. And it was okay, but his apartment was never “home.” It was a stressful, stressful time.

When my parents decided to remarry, it was for the good of the family. They'd attended a church marriage workshop called Marriage Encounter, and decided to give it another go. This time the wedding ceremony included all five of us kids. My mom made a banner that hung at the altar and we were all dressed in matching shirts. It felt special to be a part of it, and I was really glad our parents would be living together again.

I'm grateful I mostly grew up in a home with the family intact. It was not without its chaos! But whatever their troubles, our parents were both always incredibly loving with us. And clearly they loved each other. It just wasn't enough.


a dragon
fireballs –

you you you

your skin
the flavor

- Irene Latham


  1. Powerful poem, Irene. Well done. (I esp. like that "you you you") xo
    This post made me think of one of my kids' best friend's parents, post divorce, who became competitive about being fun. They would each have a lavish birthday party for her, etc. Until the mom decided to cut the dad out altogether, and moved. It was very sad.

    1. Yes, it brings out the worst in people, doesn't it? Thank you for sharing, and for visiting. xo

  2. Whew.
    Your poem.
    "carries/the flavor/smoke"

  3. That time of childhood when we want it all to be "all right" & realize parents can't make it so is a growing up too soon. The 'you, you, you' feels right, the blame placed. Your poems doing this challenge are creating a memoir, Irene.


Your thoughts?