Her father left her there

Poetry by Kelsey Erin Shipman, Winter 2014


The little girl

couldn’t breathe

and desperately wanted


someone to see when

the emperor of the supermen

climbed into her lap.


A fierce, angry cat

with no patience for

human things.


But she had watched

him with purpose,

and waited quietly.


Folded herself into a bird’s

nest and charmed him

with her song.


And so she learned

stillness and the gift

of patient legs.


And how to ride his spine with her



A secret pleasure

between two victims

of divorce.


She beaded bracelets

with her anger. He unleashed

his with claws.


Tore into furniture—

open gashes of white.


She stayed up late at night

studying the bathroom wall.


Her father left her there,

alone in her underwear.

Silly girl with no shoes.


She wanted to know

if there was room for two

at the hotel he left her for.


Kelsey Erin Shipman is a poet, performer, and educator. She teaches poetry to senior citizens at the public library, undergraduates at Texas State University, and inmates at the Travis County Jail. Her poems have recently been published in the Austin Chronicle, African American Review and Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review. A native Texas, she loves big dogs and breakfast tacos. Read more of her work at

Image: Hector de Pereda

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