The arc of advancement is
marked by molars: the 6-year the 12-year the
way they erupt from the gums, white
bulbs, the way they can
tell the age of or identify a corpse. I saved those
from my babies; small with a ceramic sheen
that came together to briefly tease soft foods
and graze the nipple. Even Geese have
tomia in their beak—a permanent ridged
“tooth” of sorts. Sharks are given fifty sets
of teeth that move into their new places
as repetitive as the call and response of the shore.
Two sets, in comparison, is somehow
fraudulent. I am always chewing, always
masticating, even in my sleep enough so
the dentist wants me to put a guard in my mouth
at night, to keep my teeth from chattering
like a plastic wind-up set, as if my subconscious thinks it can
wear my worries away, as if there is another
set of something to come out of my mouth,
but I keep waking to nothing more than a tongue.
False teeth aren’t
a contemporary notion, they used to
pull teeth from the dead and reuse them on the living:
someone rotating life inside of their mouth,
holding on to it until the throat forces it down.
When she was young my cousin hid
her dog’s lost tooth under her pillow as if
the gift were recompense for having only
two sets of teeth in one lifetime, but this is the myth
of childhood—that there is something to make
up for each loss.
I drive you to get your tooth pulled. The waiting
room is a cavity, and I ask
the receptionist to turn off the television.
They call me before you have fully come to,
and I stroke your hair while you lay
on the vinyl bed and paper pillow. Two
in a room, waiting. I catch blood tinted drool
as it slips from the V’s bottom of your sideways mouth.
I have grown used to the antiseptic smells
of this room in just a few short minutes. I watch
you until you are whole enough to walk, leaned
up against me. In this moment I recognize
we are geese. You are mine,
and if a hunter’s aiming bullet found you,
I would fly an eternal night
shrieking through the serrated
edges of my beak
the honking sound of death,
into the sleepless, below.