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Photography by Adam Coleman

the cowlick

on the back of my head

is in the shape of a vortex.

a whirlpool


that’s the word.

I always thought

that patch of hair

stood up at attention

because too many times,

I’d slept on it wet

bent the follicles

to sway in that direction —


I’ve been taming it,

the cowlick,

wetting it down

in the bathroom mirror

each morning for years

before work

thought that’ll fix it

last week, I shave my head

and find out the true shape

of this cowlick.


not what I’d expect.

a whirlpool.

it’s cute, really.

my mother always said,

from an arial view,

the streets where I grew up

looked like a rose

I’d say it does look something like a bud

like the growth on the ZZ plant,

Z’s finger’s pointing to the new buds,

one by one

or like a pussy

the one I’m looking up at now

watching my girlfriend shave

the one they own

I’m sitting on the bathroom tile

playing with the dog

thinking how

becoming myself

can feel so very pedestrian

a pair of clippers

like the ones we use

to groom the pup

I’ve contemplated shaving my head

since I first saw GI Jane

and one night we just do it

no time like the present

I wept

watching years of hair

fall to the ground

like a story

I felt like a sheep

being sheered after winter

I felt like a mammal

and not just a girl

I never got the turns right

on those rosebud streets

lost again, leash in hand

blankets of salty fog

I grew up here.

could I really be this dumb.

streets that curve

and tumble you back

in the direction from which

you’d come

but I knew,

when I hit that blue


I was heading west

all roads lead

to home

I’m watering a palm tree

I rescued

from a dumpster

and it lives in my living room

in Texas,

always looking a little lost

that first winter,

I watched those sweet palms

die and wilt under the weight

of snow and frost

what is a palm tree doing in Texas?

I brought this one inside

and remember a time,

a season,

when we were all younger

and my family and me,

we lived on a street

called Las Palmas

I touch its leaves

and my body leans west

I still put my water glasses

into the cabinet

with the lip facing down

mother knows best

dust bowl habits

I guess

that view

that arial rosebud view

all roads leading home

that is my cowlick

a map

on the top of my head

like the more I control it,

the more lost I get.

I surrender.

I am more than this body.

I am more than this house.

I am lost in this home,

hacking my way out.


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