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.”



    1. 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.

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