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Attending the Birth

My eight year old daughter
was so happy
to find her grey favourite
Guinea Pig
was not so old
as we all first thought:
since lodging with Bucky
her belly swelled
week by week, and we all shared
the promise
that before long
we would see some babies.
Excited as a Christmas girl
she ran from school
each day to lift the lid
and part the banks of straw
for the presence
of one or two or even
three new pets,
miraculously delivered
for free.
And everyday the belly
swelled more.
And more and more,
and yet, still no babies.
Finally we made
an appointment
with the vet, to find out how
many and when.
The moment I saw the vet's face
I knew
the reason why
this late birth would not be
the joyous miracle we expected,
but another miracle,
just as great.
"She is suffering, I am
afraid to say,
there is no hope." My daughter
looked at me.
In huge silent seconds
she stroked the pain,
and stunned I tried
to comfort her while this
love of her life was
prepared for delivery.
The gas breathed out
as she held the convulsion.
And last rights were
given, with me as witness,
as the joy
of her childhood
gave birth to death.

19 Jan 04

Rated 7 (6) by 1 users.
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You know, you really had me there right up until about line 30.

I want to say, though, that it is only coincidence that that is where the story takes a turn for the worse, but I just have a distaste for the latter half of the poem. Childhood joy, when described superficially, feels like childhood joy. Sorrow, when described superficially, feels superficial. I love -- truly adore -- your line breaks in the first stanza. Stanza three breaks this a little: first, I hate "Christmas girl" and second, line 17 seems to end on the wrong note. I would see about pulling "of one" from 18 right up into 17, which would also solve the awkwardness of fourth stanza. Lines 24 and 25 have a discord going on between the child's storybook style narration and the foreshadowing, which doesn't sit right with me although it may be intentional. Not buying 35/36, no idea what you're doing by setting 40 apart on it's own. Don't like "stroked the pain" in 42, but am sort of digging "this love of her life" (the "this" makes it). I do not get 47/48 at all and it is downhill from there.

You are obviously a talented poet, but it feels too cliche and touchy feely at the end. It undermines the point that this is a childhood tragedy/loss of innocence/first experience with death/whatever. I would go for a slightly grittier tone. But that's just me.
 — unknown

You use "And" too much at the beginning of sentences where you could just the same drop it and the sentence would still be sound. Theme is excellent. Was that an ACCIDENTAL extra line between 39 and 40? Overall--not bad.
 — aforbing

Why couldn't the guinea pig have babies? That's a question I need answered.

There is great sadness in this, from the mother and the child's viewpoint. That's good. I think I would have liked to hear the child's words regarding this "love of her life." Was there understanding that this creature was suffering and must be helped to get rid of the pain? Did she think it was having babies that killed the guinea pig? That would help us to feel the lesson being learned.
 — Isabelle5

Lines 51-53 give me a funny feeling in my stomach...but in a good way. Very good.
 — manstrut

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