Wednesday, May 29, 2019


My poor dentist:
She’s perfectly lovely,
professional, competent,
positive, not prone to scolding.
I’d invite her to barbecues
if I were the kind of person
who hosted barbecues.
Still, I go to incredible lengths
to avoid seeing her.
It’s not her fault,
just childhood memories
of endless cavities to be filled
and the body-horror
of orthodontics.
Metal scraping my cheeks,
the ache of teeth
being forced into a straight line.
I schedule my appointments
months in advance,
but when the actual day looms near,
I reschedule,
safe in the knowledge that
my teeth will be thoroughly cleaned
sometime in the future.
But not just now.

We all know that person
who hasn’t been to the dentist
in like ten years
but has perfect teeth anyway.
That’s not me.
Twice a year,
I eventually recline
in the beige leather chair
and wish I had made flossing
a higher priority
when my teeth are scraped
with a sharp metal harpoon.
I know my gums are bleeding;
they cry for help.
I may have cracked an old filling
unconsciously clenching my jaws.
“Do you still have that special
rinse we gave you?”
Yes, yes, I do.
I remember to use it at least
once or twice a month.
I try to crack jokes
with the hygienist’s fingers
and tools and mirrors
in my mouth stretched wide,
but I still feel like a child
in the chair,
a child who has not made you angry,
just disappointed you.

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