My dentist knows my mouth intimately.
And, like any man who recognizes a lover
across a crowded room, merely by her stance
or the way she tosses her hair, my dentist
recognizes me by the composite fillings,
the caps on my teeth.
Reclined under the veil of Novocain,
I listen to his and a dental assistant’s
chatter as he wields his drill, meticulous and
finely tuned, with gloved hands explores
every nook and cranny of my gaped mouth.
Reclined there I wonder if it’s true what they say,
that a dentist’s first impression is based on your
smile, the degree of whiteness, how big the gap
is between your teeth.
At the end of his day does he take our teeth home
with him, each extraction and filling a story to be
tossed over salad as he dines with his family,
an example to his children as the reason as to why
they should always brush their teeth?
Does he dream our teeth at night?
The decayed ones surfacing in nightmares to
mock him, in which he runs aimlessly through
forests, fog, or the dead of night, searching in vain
for a dental tool that will extinguish them?
While the healthy teeth shimmer in pleasant dreams,
lined up in rows like sailors standing at attention in
their dress whites, each saluting as he pauses before
them, the words excellent, brilliant, beautiful,
rolling off his tongue.