Catawba, Virginia by Allie Hoback

Catawba, Virginia

        nearest hospital: 20 miles


My mother clings

to the passenger side door

of my father’s baby blue pick-up–

to be traded for a minivan two years later–

watches the golden headlight

hit dirt and gravel.

My speeding father asks,

one last time, if my name

could be Samantha.

She whips towards him,

owl in angry flashlight:

“She is not coming out of me

With that name.”

In my mother’s first

year of teaching

Samantha kept lice

for the entire year.

She could not hear the name

Samantha without off-white

specs colonizing a seven-year-old’s

tiny dark head.

An ease off the gas,

Quick turn around the bend,

My father grabs my mother’s knee

As she holds to that car door,

They barrel towards a beginning

Without a Samantha.

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