by Chase Dimock
Disgust humid beneath the particle mask
as he picks at the plaque, scrubbing each
mossy tombstone in my smile, squinting
as the names of the dead become legible.
He reads the molars like fossil records, wondering
if I swallowed the meteors that cratered them.
Were you too drunk to feel pain when you tried
to open that beer bottle with your teeth?
He asks, knowing I cannot reply.
His stick mirror pulls my mouth into a half-Joker grin
that cannot express the atonement I seek. Under
the interrogation of an examination room light
everything that casts a shadow is a confession.
I want to ask what it means in my dreams
when my teeth fall out as I speak, and I
cannot find them when they clatter across
the stage like a ripped string of fake pearls.
A therapist with chamomile and acres of wool
could never get a word, but the dungeon master
staring down the abandoned mine shaft of my throat
with his picks and drills, suction and saliva, could
always excavate the canary singing in the coal dust.
I want to admit to biting the hand that brushed me
listening too intently to the fluoride conspiracies, but
the words are unnecessary. My quivering uvula
tells him everything he wants to know.