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Source: Publisher

What Mothers Withhold is a chapbook of poems by Elizabeth Kropf about motherhood and all the joy, grief, fear, pain, and, of course, love that accompanies it. It’s about the wishes mothers have for their children, how they long to protect them from the harsh truths of the world at all costs.

Kropf captures the power and strength of women during childbirth, as well as the powerlessness and anger and grief that accompanies the loss of a pregnancy — and what some women have to endure to become pregnant in the first place. Kropf writes in “Unraveling”: “we cannot cut these threads tangled around/our fingers, spun so tight. The children we/loved without sight/of them.”

These poems also touch on the loss of control women have over their bodies when they are pregnant; in “The Cost of Obedience,” Kropf writes: “naked in a paper gown/I am without a voice/I nod and accept. I do not say no.”

What Mothers Withhold is not just about withholding; it’s about enduring, fighting, hoping. To me, it read like a love letter from a mother to her children, and a mother’s affirmation of her own strength, a recounting of the journey to motherhood — the joy as well as the pain. This short collection of poems should resonate with anyone who has carried a child close to her heart. While their experiences are different, many of the emotions are the same, and Kropf’s poems push them all to the forefront in What Mothers Withhold.

To read the title poem, and Kropf’s inspiration, check out this guest post.

To learn more about the book and follow the blog tour, click here.

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Hello, friends! I’m delighted to welcome Elizabeth Kropf to the blog today to celebrate the release of her chapbook, What Mothers Withhold. I hope you’ll check out the featured poem, and stop by again in February for my review. Please give Elizabeth a warm welcome!


My chapbook “what mothers withhold” has just been published by Finishing Line Press. I would like to share the title poem of my chapbook “what mothers withhold” and discuss the inspiration and how it relates to the chapbook.

what mothers withhold

my four-year-old says she does not like when Elsa is mean to her sister

I try to explain that she is only trying to protect her

as I protect her with a sanitized, joyful version of her birth

as my mother protected me

leaving out for so long life-threatening hemorrhaging 

as mothers have always withheld splinters of pain

unwilling to prick innocent skin

until the moment the child is ready to hold truth tenderly

accept blood trickle from sharp edges

until the child has eyes to see translucent change from shard to jewel

glistening with amniotic fluid, with the deepest shade of ruby,

with the shine of unbreakable diamonds

© 2021, what mothers withhold, Finishing Line Press

When my oldest was a toddler she wanted me to tell me the story of her birth every day. I had a difficult birth with her and omitted many details when telling the story. This paralleled with me becoming an adult and hearing more about my mom’s much more difficult delivery with me. Becoming a mother has helped me appreciate my mom so much more and has brought us closer. Many of the poems are about pregnancy and birth, but there is also a theme of a desire to protect our children, and that is my most primal desire. I hope that readers will either be able to connect to their experiences as parent or child or have a window into the perspective.

Elizabeth Kropf


Thank you, Elizabeth! I definitely can relate to wanting to protect my daughter and withholding truths until she grew up. This sounds like a poignant collection of poems, especially for mothers. I look forward to sharing my thoughts on the chapbook next month.


About What Mothers Withhold

The poems of “what mothers withhold” are songs of brokenness and hope in a mother’s voice, poems of the body in its fierceness and failings. Elizabeth Kropf’s poems revel in peeling back silence, and invite us to witness a complicated and traumatic world that is also filled with love.

–Cindy Huyser, poet and editor, author of “Burning Number Five: Power Plant Poems.”

With these visceral poems, poet and mother Elizabeth Kropf has composed a chant of the vocabulary of vulnerability. From fertility to conception to birth—or not—and into motherhood, Kropf’s recounting of her experiences compels the reader to enter and acknowledge the power of what mothers endure and withhold.

–Anne McCrady, author of Letting Myself In and Along Greathouse Road

Amazon | Goodreads


About the Author

Elizabeth Kropf earned her Master of Arts in Creative Writing from Perelandra College and is widely published in literary publications, including The Texas Poetry Calendar, The Penwood Review, and Windhover: A Journal of Christian Literature.  A dream called her from California to Texas where she now lives with her husband and daughters.


For more information about the book, and to follow the blog tour, click the button below.

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