Poetry from Sydney Sheltz-Kempf

Photo: Hanjörg Scherzer


My Mother’s legacy
taught me how to see
in color:

blood meandering down my leg as she placed
society’s razor in a child’s hand,
bride-in-training to hack away anything that didn’t belong
in a man’s vision of woman
that drifted—still years away—
like blue-kissed smoke rings
from a home set aflame,
ravaged by a never-ending war.

Echoes of catcalls lurking behind construction cones
while margarita eyes burn, rimmed with salt
because we are stuck—trapped in the
too-familiar traffic of all mothers and daughters,
where one, slightly faded, yearns
to be young again while
the other, green with naivety,
can’t wait to grow up.

Yolks oozing from the cracked shells of too many
Mother’s Day omelettes delivered in bed,
slowly waking up with the ability to recognize
the expiration date
of your daughter’s eggs —
despite the purple prose dripping
from the lips of everyone who
believe that some things never end.


Sydney Sheltz-Kempf is a PhD candidate in Biological Sciences at Western Michigan University. Sydney’s previous work can be found at Intima: Journal of Narrative Medicine and The Scene and Heard journal. The Poet’s Haven released a chapbook of Sydney’s poetry in Fall 2018.

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