cover image When I Was a Twin

When I Was a Twin

Michael Klein. Sibling Rivalry (SPD, dist.), $16.95 trade paper (66p) ISBN 978-1-937420-91-8

In a small collection that packs a big punch, Klein (The Talking Day) ponders the nature of identity, specifically with regard to how to reconstruct a sense one's self when a loved one commits suicide. In Klein's case, the absent figure is his twin brother, Kevin. Experimental and formally messy, Klein's poems put inner turmoil and past foibles on full display in the hope that readers might understand that he is missing something that once was there to help complete him. There is no salvation or becoming whole again; there are only the small memories and moments that linger: "I am the survivor because I think I can feel my brother more now than I could feel him in our living." Klein persuasively conveys the loss felt by the one who remains, and the guilt and remorse of a person who had an inkling that something was wrong but admits to being "not good around sick people." In recording the ways that life can feel like one big loop of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" doomed to hellishly repeat its heartbreaks, what emerges for Klein is that the only thing left is to hope for a moment of peace. Perhaps things aren't as bad as they seem; maybe "It's all a dream." (Sept.)