New Welsh Review

For Couples Considering Divorce

Poem by Jenna V Sumpter

PUBLISHED ON: 26/01/21


TAGS: Las Vegas, boat, crisis, dysfunctional relationships, prizewinning, reinvention, river, surreal

This post is free to all website visitors

For access to the full New Welsh Review archive, become a subscriber today.



Just outside Las Vegas, NV, Ginnungagap Hotel advertises its indoor watercourse to precariously married couples


Take one week off from jobs and kids, and come
to Ginnungagap Hotel’s dark atrium.


And once inside, be careful please. Stop, here
the floor ends one step down. Stay on the pier.


Stay back, or your shoes might be stung
by the water’s rasped puppy-tongue.


The crash of water, loud, and faint war drums
invades your ears, its pressure physical as thumbs.


It bounces off the balconies that ring
this inner room, nine stories tall, and sing


of windowless things, like marriage when it’s young –
a song which you sing now with half a lung.


But hush. And hear. Your separate boats are now
whispering toward you with rising prow.


They’re coming from Ginnungagap’s canal,
a labyrinthine course that never shall


stop shifting, its tunnels ever-strange,
its carpeted islands prone to rearrange.


The floating ropes of lights that bob into the black
end short; the teeth of the water-track,


they will not follow you down its gaping throat.
You’ll go alone – each one in a boat.


And on these waters you will wage your war
like Vikings bent on blood revenge. Or,


for seven days you could choose to ignore
your spouse’s boat, and instead explore


the rapids of your private, hidden sores,
those musty loops of useless corridors.


You’re free to hide in wait, of course,
but doing so won’t save you from divorce.


The week elapsed, each boat will turn to shore,
and, drowned or injured, you will be restored.


What happens next is up to you; dismiss.
We hope it helped to borrow our abyss


and fight until all feuds break down, collapsing
into nothingness.



Jenna V Sumpter is an assistant editor for Kelsay Books, Thera Books, and freelance clients. She has also worked for The Orchards Poetry Journal, the Evansville Review, and Polyphony HS. She is a recipient of the 2020 Virginia Grabill Awards in Poetry and Nonfiction. @JennaVReads