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.