Teeth, For Some Reason

I was driving my daughters to school, and the oldest got mad at me (for something, I can’t exactly remember. You know how it is. Kids are amazing, but sometimes testy.)

She said to me, “I am thinking of something really bad, so bad I don’t even want to tell you.”

“Oh, c’mon, you can tell me. It’s okay,” I said. Usually it’s something rather interesting, so I was eager to hear.

“Well,” she said, “I’m imagining our house, and there’s a giant tooth hanging above it, and it’s going to drop on the house and crush it.”

“But then where would we live?”

“In the forest.” (That killed me. Not the woods. The forest.)

“Won’t it be cold?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Because we can wear all our clothes at once,” she said.

A giant tooth–a molar or wisdom tooth, surely–hovering in the sky like a massive enameled UFO. On a sunny day. The house quiet, a thin ribbon of smoke curling from the soon-to-be-decimated chimney. A giant tooth. Vehicle for awful mastication and homelessness.

That’s my daughter, I thought.

The image reminded me of a couple of my favorite poets, Tomas Transtromer, and Thomas Lux. I can’t find the teeth poem by Transtromer, but here’s the Lux poem:

A LITTLE TOOTH

Your baby grows a tooth, then two,
and four, and five, then she wants some meat
directly from the bone. It’s all

over: she’ll learn some words, she’ll fall
in love with cretins, dolts, a sweet
talker on his way to jail. And you,

your wife, get old, flyblown, and rue
nothing. You did, you loved, your feet
are sore. It’s dusk. Your daughter’s tall.

Merry Holidays, everyone! And please be sure to brush and floss every day.
–MJH

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