Peer Review by ALangford (United Kingdom)

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The Break-Up

By: maia_s


He was scrambling.
Trying to pick words out of the air like out-of-season fruit.
Scanning the hallway for a lost & found where the perfect phrase was waiting to be borrowed.
He needed to find something to slide under her, to soften her inevitable and terrible fall.
She was searching.
Rummaging through the strewn files along the floors of her mind.
Hunting her memory for the tracks he made to lead her to now.
She wanted to sink beneath the floor and ride out the confusion from below.
He was gasping for something to say,
But all appropriate phrases and sympathies evaded him, like smug bullies playing keep-away.
She was being dragged down by the whisps of conscience that circled her ears and murmured,
This is your fault.
He was hanging on a branch too high, and couldn't hope to reach her with his words now.
She was below the surface, too far down to distinguish the garbled promises of "It's not you, it's me" from
clear and definite "It's you."
He stuffed his hands defeatedly in a slump before turning into the cover of rustling leaves.
She raised her head one last time before drowning in her tears.

Any reviews welcome! It's been a while since I wrote, so any criticism is appreciated!

Peer Review

'He was hanging on a branch too high, and couldn't hope to reach her with his words now' - this begins a sequence of clever imagery used to reflect the split, in which the hardships the pair are going through are compared to a forest or jungle. I found this particularly effective because there's that potential for vitality, for fruitfulness; yet the writer describes the 'out-of-season fruit' - it's been cut off before its prime. There's also the predatory nature of such a setting and the ease with which someone can get lost in it, creating something eminently sinister out of a setting that should surely be beautiful and alive. I thought this had great potential as an idea and it was well sustained across the text, with allusions to the final metaphor throughout. However, it strikes me that if you want to get this across, it may be more effective if seen wholly across the text. To me, it seems a bit of a waste to use that metaphor in the last few lines only, when as a concept it could bind the piece together beautifully. Alternating between this forest imagery and the 'hallway', 'lost & found', 'floor' 'strewn with files' and the 'smug bullies' I think makes it lose its effect somewhat.

For me, this piece was very strong at highlighting the different reactions of the individuals involved to the breakup. It was clear that the male in the situation was regretful about the breakup but felt it was necessary, while the female had not seen it coming and was devastated by it. And I felt all the injustice of this even though it was never explicitly stated that this was the case.

I did wonder how often you write poetry. I find it hard to tell explicitly whether this is prose or poetry - structurally, it would appear to be an unconventional but still poetic structure and, indeed, your structure is very strong throughout. The imagery and metaphor, skill for succinctness and language did deeply remind me of something I'd be more likely to find in poetry than prose. So I'd ask what you view this as, and how often you write poetry - I'd love to read any that you have written.

Reviewer Comments

Well done - this is an excellent piece of work and was very interesting to read. You write fluently and with great elegance. I look forward to reading more of your work in the future!