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Temporal mandibular dysfunction

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(Irina Patrascu/ Flickr)

I have never been afraid of

dentists

orthodontists

oral surgeons, what have you,

 

until my teeth crumbled like stale shortbread into my hands

and I sat gummy and toothless in sleepy subconscious.

 

I have never been afraid of

dentists

orthodontists

oral surgeons, what have you,

 

until I found other things to be afraid of first

like schoolhouses that eat time

questions that end a syllable short

yesses that are anything less than immediate

unripe bananas

biting into the people I love and finding them

green and bitter

reverse-Dalí watches, solid and looming.

 

In my sleep I chew invisible feasts

and by day I gnaw at myself.

These teeth will not last if I keep grinding.

This jaw will go, too, if I keep clenching.

I will have to take pieces of my lips

and turn them into a sundial.

 

I have never been afraid of

dentists

orthodontists

oral surgeons, what have you,

 

until progression became a voracious cavity

and lent me unreturnable hunger.

 

Sam Wong can be reached at [email protected]

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