Again they’re taking a tooth,
this time a molar at the very back.
It’s dead, they say. Rotting
the gum right through.
It’s all so definite: a sweep
of the occlusal surfaces; a hulking
metal plate jammed in.
This is the way with things gone bad.
The root is where the justice
is. What is rotten will go on
leaking its own poison
and then you can’t turn back. Still,
I meet my lover on the corner of 104th
and the cold hums under my jacket
like a pulp chamber. My jaw aches;
I can’t find the words to remove
him. I want to say, It’s too much
loss—But I know the hollow space
that comes after, the hole
your tongue can’t help but return and return to.
You can fill it with a plastic doppelganger,
a welded paradigm, but it’s never the same.