By Samantha Imperi.

Hope is a sticky thing, like gum on your shoe /
kissing the sidewalk still there / every time you move forward.

woman with red bird by Van Hovak.

The day I grew feathers 
was the day I told my mother 
that I would not give her grandchildren. 


There have been many times 
I spooned hope onto her tongue 
a flavor I am enough familiar with 


to regret having given her a taste. 

Hope is a sticky thing, like gum on your shoe 
kissing the sidewalk still there 


every time you move forward. My mother’s hope 
was a choke vine with spiral tendrils 
those long green fingers that bite into  


a body that could have lived 
had it not been wrapped up 
in the embrace of something so unforgiving.  


I died that day, like the oak in our backyard 
all coated in ivy and suffocating 
each crisping leaf a cry: I’m dying 


unheard amidst the screaming emerald green. 
Its hulking carcass still stands sentinel behind our house 
because dead doesn’t always mean gone 


or never means gone. And anyways 
the feathers were red and brown and unremarkable. 
If I had told my mother about them, she might have suggested 


I pluck them and my eyebrows, while I’m at it 
would have promised me, as any good mother would 
that there are times when a bird is not 


a bird. I found myself, instead 
convinced that I had spent too many hours 
shaving coarse dark hairs from my delicate woman’s chin 


and perhaps feathers could be 
beautiful and I could not be  
questioned. If I told no one 


I would just be a bird. 

The Blood Pudding – January 1, 2023

Samantha Imperi is a student at the University of Akron in the Northeast Ohio MFA program. “Woman-Bird” is part of a collection she is developing that deals with grief surrounding her decision not to be a mother. Her previous work can be found in Beyond Words Literary Magazine.

Artwork: Van Hovak is an Armenia artist whose paintings can be found in corporate and private collections in France, England, Germany, Switzerland and the United States. His work is created by overlaying numerous materials on a single canvas. His work bears the influence of artists such as Picasso and Chagall and often explore themes related to spirituality, beauty, perfection, and humanity. You can find more about him here.