The Tooth

The Tooth
by Theodora Goss

In summer, I chipped a tooth
on something — a seed, a small piece
of grit, a tiny stone
in a bag of green beans.
The dentist fixed it with that stuff
dentists use to fix teeth.
In winter I chipped it again
in exactly the same place,
biting into a dried apricot that was supposed
to have been pitted, but wasn’t.
Which is no big deal, really.
The dentist can fix it again.

Except that it reminds me
of my grandmother, who by the end of her life
had lost all her teeth, Soviet era dentistry
not having been, let us say, ideal.
There were cavities in the worker’s paradise.
She chewed soft food with dentures,
living principally on chocolate
that she hid under her pillow
in case it might be stolen by, I don’t know, soldiers?
A habit she learned during two world wars.

That was the year she left us,
going wherever they go, the ones
who leave us irrevocably.

When I wonder where that is,
my tooth, the one that has been chipped
twice now, says, don’t worry.
You’ll know soon enough.

(The image is a Victorian advertisement for tooth soap, which I assume is an early form of our modern toothpaste.)

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