“Teeth” by Sara Eddy

The neighbors’ child wanders into my yard
unannounced to play on the old swing set.
I know her mama will be along, but I go out
with a sigh to make sure she doesn’t
break her head or wander further.
I say hello.
She doesn’t answer; she is full of beans
and evil intent–she is like Loki’s best girl
and she needs watching carefully.
I say whatcha doin today
and she sucks her lips into her mouth
around her teeth
preparing for something, sparking
her eyes at me like she’s ready
to leap at my throat
I take a step back as
she pulls those lips apart and holds
them gaping with her fingers
exposing her fangs
so she can threaten me with the real reason
she has ventured to my yard:
a loose tooth.
She puts her tongue against it and pops
it toward me, letting it hang on a thread
dangling like a dead mouse by its tail.
With a wave of nausea I leave her
to her trickster god’s care
and scurry to the house
feeling curious distress. Why,
why are teeth so upsetting when
they aren’t in our mouths? Fallen out
teeth and punched out teeth
pulled teeth and rotted teeth
the roots of nerve and blood
going back perhaps ages and ages
to when this would be a death sentence:
You lose your teeth, you cannot eat, you die.

Sara Eddy is a writing instructor and tutoring mentor at Smith College, in Northampton, Massachusetts.  Her poems have appeared recently in Forage, Parks & Points, and Damfino, along with Terrapin Press’ anthology The Donut Book.  She lives in Amherst, Mass., with three teenagers, a black cat, and a blind hedgehog.

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