Of all the hells
a brief marriage’s
wedding album
might go to—flames,
trash, buried in
a basement box—
I guess this one
isn’t so bad: she
took it along with
the Tupperware.
I didn’t object—
one less memento
to moon over—
even flattered myself
that it was me
she couldn’t let go.
Besides, she’d
made the thing,
decorated the cover,
doodled on pages,
pinned ribbon to the spine,
even brought it
to her art class—
proof, I admit now,
of her skill, not our joy.
I hope she keeps
showing it, if only for
the lesson our history
imparts, as police
display by the highway
cautionary sculptures
in the remains
of crashed cars.

Michael Milburn teaches high school English in New Haven, Connecticut. His book of poems, Drive By Heart, was published by Word Press in 2009. He has also published a book of essays, Odd Man In, with MidList Press. He lives in Hamden, Connecticut.

About “Object Lesson”: I suppose it’s tempting and cliché to turn poems about divorce into occasions for anger or revenge, but I wanted to get some degree of understanding or at least constructive reflection into this one. The appropriated wedding album was in my mind as a starting point for a poem, and then the wrecked cars showed me the way to framing it as a kind of cautionary symbol, and actually seeing it that way for the first time.