By Admas Tewodros

I’m from Ethiopia and I come from two different tribes though I only speak my father’s language Amharic. In this poem I repeat the word ‘temberkeke’ which is the female conjugation telling her to kneel

Work hard now

Then, you can reap what you sow

What you sow is not all about you


She’s animated

Strong in her speech

doesn’t hold back so

I developed thick skin

my mother prepared me for life by intimidating me of it

In becoming a woman

she taught me

I am responsible for anything that happens to me


Show humility

Know when you are wrong.

Don’t make the same mistake twice

Always be worthy

I fought regularly with my father

And when his ego grew too big

He became

Too angry to feel what I was feeling

My mother was his wife

So She had to teach me a lesson;

She listened so well and intently

Understandingly, afterwards

She told me to step back

Because he couldn’t handle the truth


Beg him for forgiveness

Show him you are worthy

That was the first time I remember feeling broken


Cover your chest

It’s cold out there

Cross your legs

Don’t wear black

Tie your hair back

Only use eyeliner after 21

Sometimes I wonder

All the things she’s seen

And hasn’t told me

I wonder

if she’s convinced herself of piece of mind

As a humble housewife

I couldn’t tell if she was complicated or conflicted

When consumed in her bitterness

She showed fire

told me I was to be different

I was named after the horizon

She said to

Manifest ideas and

Fly up against the sun

then in the feat for ultimate power

She took me to church,


Kiss these sacred walls, the floors

Go on your knees

beg for forgiveness

Beg him to give you a good life.

I couldn’t understand

How power could be surrendered like that

I left home with one suitcase and the burden of expectation

Knowing what it took to get me overseas;

Were all the things my mother never had

I think,

She’s afraid I may never come back.

She tells me I defy too much

I question, only because i’ve seen so much

I’m conflicted

We have such big barriers that

My redemption is foreign to her


The opportunity to live out my dreams

Is a privilege


Always be worthy

Don’t make the same mistake twice


About the Writer:

Admas is a Brisbane based spoken word poet from Ethiopia. She aims to unpack complex emotions in her work. She says she is inspired by growth; a theme and structure she consciously and unconsciously adheres to.

A little word from Admas:

I have found strength in writing and performing poetry as it’s brought me to many truths. Fortunately I found poetry as a vessel by which to explore myself and my perspective. Last year I wrote and performed my first full length collection of poems called September Flowers (Temberkeke is a poem from that collection) A crucial project that gave me autonomous space to explore culture, femininity, and growth through the symbolism of flowers.