Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Poem for Wednesday

I'm back to writing a poem every Wednesday to share with my poetry buddy, writer Clara Gillow Clark. I'm going to use some of the prompts that poet extraordinaire Molly Fisk has posted, one for each day of the month of May, on her Facebook page. For today I did, "Write an ode to an ordinary object."

Dental Floss

I should sing of dental floss because its regular use
forestalls gum surgery. No doubt that is a very good thing.

But I sing of dental floss because its regular use
might shorten the lecture. The one where she measures

each pocket where each tooth is receding from the gum
and feels obliged to tell me how deep the pockets are,

deeper than last time, deeper, it seems, from the sorrow
in her voice, than the bottom of the deepest sea.

"Let me show you," she says, and hands me a mirror,
one of those magnifying ones that will enlarge every pore

in the red, puffy face surrounding the red, puffy gums,
with that one chin hair I forgot to pluck this morning.

"No," I say. "You can just tell me about them."
She's puzzled. I try to explain. "Wait thirty years

and then we'll see how much YOU like looking
in mirrors." She laughs. She thinks I'm joking.

As she proceeds to the scraping and gouging
portion of the hour, she tells me about her first-grade

daughter, how gifted she is, two years ahead in reading,
three years in math, and how it all comes from HER,

how they would never push her. I think idly about
dental floss, its strength and suppleness, and let my gaze

fall upon her soft white neck. "By the disgruntled patient,
in the hygienist's office, with the dental floss."

At the end of the visit, she tells me that I should come
back for another cleaning in four months, instead of six.

"We have to do something about those gums!"
She offers me a free toothbrush, free travel-size toothpaste,

and free dental floss. "Can I take two of the dental floss?"
I ask. It might be good to have them. Just in case.


  1. Señora Dientes Malas in the waiting room with a very large tube of toothpaste! Wack, wack, wack!

  2. Oh, yes. I forgot to say how much I love the poem. The rhythm is lovely, and it is very tooth-in-cheek chic!

  3. I Love it! Of course, I do. I love everything you write, Claudia! And what Alicia said about very tooth-in-cheek chic, well, I wish I had thought of THAT! Poetry rules!

  4. Wasn't that some novel by Geo. Eliot? The Mills on the Floss?