Poem | For the Sake of the Children by Hollie McNish


    Hollie McNish

    For the Sake of the Children


    for my most despised piece of advice
    given to people wanting to divorce

    because no-one knows why someone
    might want to leave a relationship

    because guilt-tripping people into staying
    can be a very dangerous thing.

    won’t you just stay together
    until the kids are in college?
    sit round each mealtime pretending to smile

    save the truth till they go out with friends
    when the treaty between you
    repeats its marital beggings like

    stage understudies; doing the dishes
    like wringing out blood;
    bedsheets insomniac heavy

    nighttime sodden with hunger
    untouched; won’t you just stay together
    grit teeth this is love

     until your kids are in college
    until your kids have left home
    until your kids are having kids of their own

    until your grandkids are grown up
    grey haired and dust;
    the storm clouds bust open;

    the stars spat their last;
    sun fire imploded; the cosmos
    sucked into a vacuumless dream

    till your lips, once raw-rubbed
    with eager ambitions
    have forgotten the point of their softness 

    won’t you just stay together
    till your coffin, nailed shut
    burns your body ash cold

    and the funeral guests, unaware of
    those scars in your cinder grey eyes
    can comfortably make their way home

    Hollie McNish is a poet and author based between Cambridge and Glasgow. She has published four collections of poetry: Papers (2012), Cherry Pie (2015), Why I Ride (2015), Plum (2017) and the poetic memoir, Nobody Told Me (2016), for which she won the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry. McNish’s sixth publication, Slug: and other things I’ve been told to hate, was published in May 2021, with a further collection, Lobster, due in 2022, both with Hachette. In 2016, she co-wrote a play with fellow poet Sabrina Mahfouz, Offside, relating the history of British women in football. This was published as a book in 2017.

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