What could have been—
Littlest life
Measured in fruit?
Holding a knife,

I remember,
As I slice a plum
That was this week’s—
And cut my thumb.

Other bellies
Swell around me
While my blood still
Comes like the sea.

Nothing grows under
My ribs—no teeth,
No bones, no soul.
Instead, beneath

My heart, it’s empty,
The beats my own.
I walk alone,
But not alone.

The thing with feathers
Has made a nest
Between my lungs
And by my breast.

My hands hold shadows—
Years have lined
Them, too, with what
They long to find.

Mary Grace Mangano

Mary Grace Mangano is a writer and educator from New Jersey. She received her MFA from the University of Saint Thomas in Houston and her writing has appeared in America, Dappled Things, Fare Forward, Church Life Journal, and Ekstasis, among others. She tweets at @MG_Mangan0.

'Hope' has 1 comment

  1. December 8, 2023 @ 2:21 pm Cynthia Erlandson

    This is beautiful — such briefly, succinctly, powerfully expressed sadness (the dimeters work perfectly for that effect), yet without sounding maudlin or asking for pity. Nice allusion to Emiily Dickinson’s bird of hope.


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