I call and tell my mother I’m cutting my hair + A Love Poem to Cockroaches

by Samantha Padgett

I call and tell my mother I’m cutting my hair

and she tells me she hopes I’m okay
with it looking bad. Here’s the thing:
the sun in winter is still hot, and I’m
one January sunburn away from calling
it quits. My father leaves me a voicemail
wishing me a Happy Easter, and I text him
the bones inside our bodies are wet
and something about that just doesn’t
sit right with me. I guess I’m a dry bones
kinda girl. He doesn’t respond. When I say,
No one understands me, I don’t mean that
in a pick-me-out-of-a-line-up-so-I-can-finally-feel-
seen kinda way. It’s more like I-don’t-have-enough-
is-panicking-the-way-I’m-panicking kinda way.
No one understands me, but I keep calling
my mother everyday to tell her I choked
on my own spit again and survived. She isn’t
impressed. She clicks her tongue. She tells me
I should plant a garden. She tells me
I should actually grow something.




A Love Poem to Cockroaches

When it’s finally cold enough
to snow, my sister tells me
she’s thinking of dying again.
She tells me not to worry—
don’t worry, don’t worry, don’t
worry about the cockroaches—
they hibernate this time of year,
but they always come back.
Truth be told, I haven’t eaten
a star in so many moons
because the last one burnt
my tongue. I’m convinced
I’ve slipped between the folds
of the universe and I’m suffocating
like a kid trapped in a ball pit.
Wait, this isn’t about me. No,
this is about my sister—the year
she kept every piece of gum
she chewed, stuck them together
to form a ball. Today, she tells me
living is a big fucking commitment,
and I tell her I can’t put that in
a poem. I tell her I need her to talk
about the universe and blackholes
and supernovas. She tells me
I’m full of shit. She tells me the days
are short and her body aches. She
tells me she thinks about how the earth
will feel on top of her skin. She tells
me to stop thinking about myself
for once. I tell her this isn’t about me,
it’s about the roaches—I feel them
stirring. I feel them waking up.

Samantha Padgett graduated from Sam Houston State University with an MFA in creative writing, publishing, and editing. Her work has appeared in Poet Lore, North American Review, New Ohio Review, American Literary Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Austin, TX with her cat.