Teeth: Poetry Friday

It’s been a traumatic week… Gearbox was running to catch a rocket in Engineering camp, ran into a bench, and knocked out his two front (adult) teeth. The dentist put them back in and wired them to their neighbors but now we have to wait and see if they take. I’ve been trying to stay upbeat and positive for my scared little boy despite massive dentist-induced anxiety.

This is all to say that at 6:30 on Friday morning, as I sip my coffee, the only thing going through my head is teeth-dentist-teeth-dentist-teeth-dentist. A litany of fear and anxiety.
Since I can’t think about anything else, here are two tooth-related poems.

The first is a dentist-fear-fueled excerpt from Shel Silverstein’s The Crocodile’s Toothache:

And the dentist laughed, “Oh isn’t this fun?”
As he pulled the teeth out, one by one.
And the Crocodile cried, “You’re hurting me so!
Please put down your pliers and let me go.”
But the dentist laughed with a Ho Ho Ho,
And he said, “I still have twelve to go-
Oops, that’s the wrong one, I confess,
But what’s one crocodile’s tooth more or less?”

I’ve had the dentist-pulling-the-wrong-tooth nightmare (and reality). *shivers*

We’re not into crocodiles at the moment, but we are into sharks — Gearbox has a huge fossilized shark tooth collection. When we lived in North Carolina, he would spent hours combing the beach for tiny shark teeth. He even found a megaladon tooth the size of a quarter. Right now I really, really, really wish Gearbox had shark teeth instead of human teeth so that two teeth would grow to replace the ones he lost.

Shark’s Teeth by Kay Ryan is about those “small shark’s-tooth shaped fragments” of silence in life. As every parent knows, those seconds of silence can be more frightening and dangerous than all the noise in the day. That pause of quiet when you get the phone call from the nurse saying, “there’s been an accident, can you come get your son”. The heart-stopping silence as he stares at you with tears and blood running down his face, looking lost and scared.

[…] An hour
of city holds maybe
a minute of these
remnants of a time
when silence reigned,
compact and dangerous
as a shark. […]

You can read the whole poem at The Poetry Foundation or listen to the author read it.

Gearbox is a real trooper. He has been cheerful and positive through this whole experience. I could use a little of his grace and courage.

Poetry Friday is hosted this week by Bibliophile at Life is Better with Books.

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8 Responses to Teeth: Poetry Friday

  1. Oh, best wishes for healing for your son, and a nice boring weekend for all of you. My son lost half a front tooth a few years ago (so far the “fake” part is still holding) – not nearly as stressful as what you all are going through but you’re right about the first seconds of that phone call. (Nice that you could even summon up the humor for Silverstein along with the Kay Ryan poem today!)

  2. Tabatha says:

    Your poor son (and you)! My front tooth was knocked out three times as a child (once by a swing, once by a dog, and once by a door). It was always traumatic. Hope you have a nice, quiet weekend!

  3. kczaja says:

    @Tabatha… three times?! That’s impressive.
    I never knocked a tooth out, but I’ve chipped both of my front teeth. I chipped one while riding my bike as a kid and the other as an adult. When my dentist heard how I broke my other front tooth, he had to leave the room he was laughing so hard — I broke my front tooth with an earring!
    I was dressed as a pirate and wearing really long earring. I spun my head around and the earrings swung, hit me in the mouth, and broke my tooth.

  4. Laura Shovan says:

    Poor you, Katya. Moms always suffer alongside their kiddos. All I could think of was Sherman Alexie speaking about his dental traumas as a child, with a dentist who believed Native Americans do not feel pain as acutely as other children. Definitely DO NOT share that with your son!

  5. My heart goes out to you. I know what you mean about those calls and the silence. “Shark’s Teeth” describes it well. Good wishes to you and your son. Settle right back in, teeth, settle in!

  6. Oh, I’m so sorry about your son’s dental trauma. I love that Kay Ryan poem–thanks for sharing these even amidst all your distractions. I had a shark moment a few weeks ago with my husband. I would like to never have another one of those, please.

  7. Linda Baie says:

    You hit it just right with the Kay Ryan poem, Katya. Having those phone calls is heart-stopping. My son knocked teeth out falling into a jungle gym bar & they did ‘re-set’ (I don’t know if that’s the correct word.) but anyway, it worked. I hope your son is okay too. Aren’t poets great, something for everyone!

  8. Mary Lee says:

    Leave it to Kay Ryan to give us a name for those moments of fearful silence.

    I’m rooting (ha) for your son’s teeth, and pondering the miracle of teeth that leave home briefly and then come back to stay.