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  • Samantha Imperi

To my daughter, on shaving


I apologize that your body will cause offense, it being made of skin and bones fat and sinew all troublesome enough particles

but also the hair, and how it grows indiscriminately and without regard

for the evolution of our need. Once

a body needed protection, needed more

than to look pretty and feel smooth

a body needed to withstand those natural forces

far more forgiving they were than the male gaze. I read the gospel of a man on the internet

who declared body hair to be a cancer

upon the female form. I have agreed

for many years to hate myself

by this standard alone and compromise

by shaving once a week. Six days out of seven

I am a spiny cactus, each sharpened follicle

erect in its pore a saber

against anyone who imagined me soft.

I was young once too

I remember being told of a child

so eager to be a woman

she stripped the flesh from her leg, skin

dangling from the razor head and still

I snuck to the bathroom without permission

to sever each baby-fine strand

from ankle to knee. Here is a lie I was told:

only whores shave above the knee.

Your body is yours alone to reckon with

someday, I hope you understand.

I suggest you try shaving

with water and against the grain,

as my mother always told me.


Samantha Imperi is a student at the University of Akron in the Northeast Ohio MFA program. Her work can be found in Beyond Words Literary Magazine and is forthcoming from The Blood Pudding.

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