it would be a boy. Intuition,
maybe. Or perhaps, little
brothers were all I knew.
My third sibling paused
in the first trimester
and never hit play: a frozen
picture on the ultrasound.
Mom came home, stole
to bed, and shut the door
with a clack soft as thunder.
My third sibling is a silence,
forgotten outside the quiet
moments alone, when I wonder
what his name was.
‘Paused […] and never hit play’ – that’s perfect, right there.
I don’t find the poem abrupt. Short, perhaps, but all that needed to be said is there. It’s not deeply emotional, but it is emotive – a story many can relate to, told with the odd distance and slightly confused sensitivity of a child who could never fully understand.
Tiny thing, but personally I’d put an extra ‘as’ in the ‘clack soft as thunder’ line. Either works technically, I just found myself putting one in there naturally when reading. I love the feel in that line though – it brings back that childhood sense of something being wrong. Of creeping round the house torn between wanting to do something to help but not sure what and scared of doing something wrong instead to bring down a parent’s wrath!
It would have been the second sibling for me, and I too assumed it would be a boy. I don’t remember often, and I sometimes wonder if my brother, three years younger, even knew about the number three who was not to be.
I can see that. I try to remove unneeded words when I can, but might should have kept that one.
It actually would have been my second sibling - I only have one sibling, but second just didn't sound as right as third.
To answer your critique questions, I don't think this ends abruptly. To me poetry ends most effectively when it either surprises the reader, or forces them to look at the preceding poem in a new way. I think this poem does that, and in an impact way.
I don't have any arbitrary ideas about the length of a poem. If it accomplished the writers purpose, and they don't feel like anything is missing, it's done. This feels complete to me.
2. No, less is more.
I don't remember all their names, but I know Mom does.
As for your questions,
1) I think this piece ended perfect place.
2) No, I don't think so.
1. no. I like the abruptness: it feels like finality. It feels, in a small way, like the refuted expectation when a loved one takes a breath and you realize the next one is not going to come--if that makes sense. It feels appropriate for death, basically.
2. doesn't bother me -- impact is more important than length
But like others have said, the ending is abrupt, but it suits the subject of what you're writing about.
I relate to it well because I also have a brother who passed shortly after birth.
I was too young to remember but I know it took a heavy toll on my mom and our family.
As for the questions, I think my answer is the same to both of them: yes, too abrupt and yes too short, but I actually like that. Because of the subject of the poem, the baby's life was so short and ended so abruptly that I feel like the brevity works in the poem's favor on account of that. I read it through twice and on the second reading I thought it mirrored the narrative, so I would personally keep this as it is.
Also, someone else said this, but I have to say that the video imagery is very good. I wasn't expecting it, but it fits perfectly.