Wednesday, April 11, 2007

once more, with filling

As I was eating breakfast, the dentist's office called to tell me I was supposed to get my teeth cleaned in March and missed my appointment. There are probably a couple of therapy sessions full of reasons why I didn't go in March. Tonight, I'm choosing to deal with them in poetry.

Once More, with Filling

I’m not sure why I feel the

need to say anything at

all except your fear is worse

than mine. You have to

have a filling replaced. You,

who treasures her teeth, who is

so faithful to brush and floss.

My mouth has more drilling sites

than a Saudi oil field. This is new

to you, not me. “It’s not so bad,”

I say because I am not the one

subject to the white-knuckled,

chair-gripping, teeth-clenching truth

that you’re never numb enough.

I sit down in the waiting

room and open my novel;

behind the closed door they hook

up the suction on your lip.

The dentist brandishes a loaded

syringe, aiming – she says -- to kill

the pain. As the novacaine kicks

in, she dons a mask and blocks the light

with her face, and closing on your

biscuspids, her drill droning, she hides

her glee behind the paper stretched

across her smile. You scream, but I don’t

hear. I finish one chapter and start

another; she continues her attack.

We trust the torturer since we can’t

see inside our own mouths. She talks

about decay and plaque, tells us

our gums are receding, as she pokes

and scrapes and commands us to spit.

We can only lie there slack-jawed,

imagining what life would be

if we didn’t believe this gum-gasher,

this dealer of dread, this sadistic
and sayer of all things teeth.
We are falling prey to a diabolical

plot to control us with spikes

and mirrors and laughing gas.

I drive you home, wondering

why we don’t trust our tiny

tusks to Crest and Scope, brushing

and flossing, saving ourselves

the terror and torment of

these trips, skipping these bouts of

anxiety. Would we find we don’t

need the pain she offers, or would

we count the years by the teeth

that dropped from our heads,

even as we saved them in a shallow

bowl, until there was no recourse

but to slink into her lair and gum

the words, “Pwease hewp me.”



SpookyRach said...


zorra said...


Pyewacket said...

Hi! This is Kathleen, otherwise known as pyewacket from The Seasonal Cook and NewEnglandGrown. Along with Helen of Beyond Salmon and Joan of Urban Agrarian, I'm organizing a potluck for Boston food bloggers. This will be very casual, just at my apartment in Cambridge, with people bringing either home-cooked or purchased food as they wish. We're planning on Saturday, May 5, at 7:00. Please let me know if you would like to join us by emailing me at kjweldonATyahooDOTcom. (I know Marshfield is a little hell-and-gone from Cambridge, but I figured I would ask anyway. Spouses welcome, of course.

Presbyterian Gal said...

Sorry it took so long for me to comment. I just went and re-brushed, re-flossed, re-stimudented and re-gargled. *hair on end*

don't eat alone said...

I'm calling tomorrow. Seriously.


Sally said...

ahhh- um- great poem- off to clean my teeth again- I may be gone a while!