Dental Hygiene in Middle Age

Left ankle soft as the wisdom teeth
I should have had out ten years earlier
rolls, betrays me outside the sliding door
of the dental school. Student doctor seats
me, sends her first year to oral surgery
for ice packs, jokes it’s good I’ll be reclined
for the next three hours. The lamp blinds,
jaw is numb and fat, and I want to sleep
but the ankle keeps in time with the worm
in my ear, Please. Don’t stand so close to me
even with the hole in the line, the gasp
of breath. Taste of amalgam, smell of burnt
drill, tooth, sweat beads from the lamp-heat,
fingernails in armrest. I’m done. Unclasp.

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