Poem – Elizabeth Smither

A dentist’s view of heaven


No drill, no syringes, no mouth washes
no cotton padding like tiny bolsters
no excavating a tooth like a collapsed

house in which at the bottom remains
like a family safe in a doodlebug bombing
a base of still-living tooth.

And no conversation either: the
one-sided memoir of Dentistry School
the fearsome lecturers, themselves like molars

or Dracula teeth. The wearing of surgical gloves
from the beginning. The question at the interview:
Why do you want to be a dentist? to which

his honest reply troubled: Because it’s more
secure than his first love: astrophysics.
Nothing gets completed in this life, we agree

as the injection takes hold, sealing off
sections of gum and cheek, side of tongue.
In which case, in a completed heaven, he’ll

have a simple wand. Just go around
touching it to the side of jaws that ache
miraculously completing caps with a tap

inserting back lost teeth held in milk
or ice, like in the poster in the waiting room.
No more gaps. Flying and loved

not like the dread statistics that say
translation for dentists is a strong possibility
but loved and loved, a special angel.


Elizabeth Smither

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