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 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.