Almanac Poetry: The Arnolfini Divorce


Jan van Eyck, The Arnolfini Wedding (1434). Oil on oak panel, 82.2 × 60 cm (32.4 × 23.6 in). National Gallery, London. [Wikimedia Commons.]


The Arnolfini Divorce
(‘long after’ the fifteenth century painting by Jan van Eyck)


The two young married couples
came here
from the old country,
with no more than a suitcase
and the clothes they stood up in.
They lived in rented flats, had kids,
worked long hours to give their children
a better life,
saved their money, went without,
and sent their offspring to private Catholic schools.
The oldest son and daughter
of each family married
then moved to a solid brick, middle-class house
in the midst of suburbia.
In less than a year,
they fell apart
– he went to nightclubs,
had an affair with a girl in the office.
His wife was howling and pregnant
when she booted him out the door.
The divorce did not go smoothly.
An ugly fight ensued
over assets, child
and greatly loved
shaggy, brown-haired terrier.


But Mr. and Mrs. Arnolfini,
wandered off to new lives,
with new partners,
still in the same part of town.



Read more from Kevin Densley HERE


Kevin Densley’s latest poetry collection, Please Feed the Macaws…I’m Feeling Too Indolent, is available HERE


Read more Almanac Poetry HERE



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Kevin Densley is a graduate of both Deakin University and The University of Melbourne. He has taught writing and literature in numerous Victorian universities and TAFES. He is a poet and writer-in-general. His fifth book-length poetry collection, Please Feed the Macaws ... I'm Feeling Too Indolent, was published in late 2023 by Ginninderra Press. He is also the co-author of ten play collections for young people, as well as a multi Green Room Award nominated play, Last Chance Gas, which was published by Currency Press. Other writing includes screenplays for educational films.


  1. I really like this Kevin. Well done.
    Reminiscent for me of Billy Joel’s ‘Scenes from an Italian Restaurant.’

  2. I’ll second that. Marvelous stuff, KD applying a modern setting to an ancient theme…or should I say, a modern theme to an ancient setting.

  3. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, establishmentboys (interesting name!) for your comment. I enjoyed the Joel comparison, which made me think about the poem in a way I hadn’t before.

  4. Kevin Densley says

    Thank you, DB – very pleased this poem resonated with you the way it did. It’s a poem I’ve had ‘on the books’, so to speak, for quite a while, and have tinkered here and there with it, over the years.

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