Poem – Cockroach – Anne Sexton

Roach, foulest of creatures, 

who attacks with yellow teeth 

and an army of cousins big as shoes, 

you are lumps of coal that are mechanized 

and when I turn on the light you scuttle 

into the corners and there is this hiss upon the land. 

Yet I know you are only the common angel 

turned into, by way of enchantment, the ugliest. 

Your uncle was made into an apple. 

Your aunt was made into a Siamese cat, 

all the rest were made into butterflies 

but because you lied to God outrightly- 

told him that all things on earth were in order- 

He turned his wrath upon you and said, 

I will make you the most loathsome, 

I will make you into God’s lie, 

and never will a little girl fondle you 

or hold your dark wings cupped in her palm. 
But that was not true. Once in New Orleans 

with a group of students a roach fled across 

the floor and I shrieked and she picked it up 

in her hands and held it from my fear for one hour. 

And held it like a diamond ring that should not escape. 

These days even the devil is getting overturned 

and held up to the light like a glass of water.

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