Sonya Schneider


At the farmer’s market, I need
the ripe tomatoes, even the slightly

bruised ones, and the yellow parrot
tulips, with their ruffled petals

yearning to surrender. Once, a teacher
told me—Need is a bad word. She

stood in front of the class, frowning
at its long ‘e’ sound, as a mother

might frown at her young child
who’s just peed her pants.

When I pushed my daughter
into the world, I felt a need

like never before. The midwife
yelled, Wait! But I could not.

Knees wide, legs shaking,
I opened to her jeweled crown.

The Trumpeter Swans

Their white necks now covered in muck,
they gather in marshes and feast on winter wheat
and grubs. Once hunted for their pristine skins,
the swans are now free to migrate, sink
their black beaks into the mud.
I have spent hours in front of the mirror, analyzing
this pale face—and the face of my mother,
and my mother’s mother, all the way down
this maternal quagmire. Now that it is changing,
becoming more like theirs around the mouth and eyes,
I see myself more clearly. I don’t hate the swans
for being true. I, too, wish to bite the earth.
I, too, am hungry.

SONYA SCHNEIDER is a playwright and poet living in Seattle, WA. Her poetry can be found or is forthcoming in 3Elements Review, Catamaran, SWWIM, ONE ART, West Trestle Review, Eunoia Review and MER, among others. She was a finalist for Naugatuck River Review’s 2024 Narrative Poetry Contest as well as for the 2022 New Letters Patricia Cleary Miller Award for Poetry. 

Read more by Sonya Schneider

Poem in West Trestle Review
Three poems in One Art
Poem in SWWIM