Sunday, April 17, 2011

Contemplating The Enamel of Mortality



by James Jarvis
05/18/02

Did you know
that you can hear a tooth die?
It makes a small, crackely sound
in your head.
I stayed up the other night
with one of my teeth
on a death watch.
It was the least I could do
for mistreating it,
bathing it in sugar
and scotch
for 40 years.

We sat in the dark together,
staring out the window
at the city nightscape,
contemplating mortality,
the death of all things:
people and teeth,
and the tooth went quietly
with only one small crackety crack
sound as it died.

I was relieved.
No more pain.
Life is grinding decay and pain
and this tooth went quietly,
but some of the other teeth
didn't.
They raised unholy havoc,
declaring war on my jaw and gums,
causing lots of infection,
draining white cells
from all over my body . . .
even fighting the dentists
who had to cut and
yank and tear and twist
and grunt the bastards out.

Which way will I go,
I wonder,
when the time comes?
Will I go quietly
with just one small
crackety crack,
or will they have to cut
and yank and tear and twist
and grunt me out?


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