The third one wears secondhand shorts,
which hang below his dimpled,
doughy knees, side dishes
playing second fiddle to the meatiest
thighs this side of Thanksgiving.
The third one makes due
with somebody else’s hot wheels and Lincoln Logs
(and doesn’t even care that they’re vintage).
Each October the third one is a second-class
citizen, inheriting even the fantasies
of his brothers, settling in to life as a
half-hearted pirate or slightly stained zebra,
when he wants the shiny Batman cape
still wrapped in plastic on the Walmart shelf.
When they run out into the night,
candy bags flapping in the autumn wind,
he’s a third wheel, trailing behind
the other two like an afterthought.
He’s used to being scooped up, stuffed
under an arm or slung onto a hip.
But he remains stalwart, forthright,
and forthcoming with his feelings:
the third one is always first
to voice his blame or praise.
Rebecca Fremo’s poems and essays appear in journals and online magazines including Water~Stone Review, Paper Darts, Lake Region Review, Tidal Basin Review, Poetica, Red River Review, Full Grown People, Compose, and Naugatuck River Review. Her chapbook, Chasing Northern Lights, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2012. A Virginia native, she lives in St. Peter, Minnesota with her husband and three sons.