My dream teeth
shred against my tongue
like sodden fingernails
I am my father’s daughter
and I have his teeth
secreted inside me

Hard and cold as death
these gumless, vicious ivories
hidden and forgotten
in a drawer that stinks
of spilled perfume
and moth’s wings.

They have followed me
abided with me,
a swallowed secret,
lodged in my gullet
shut tight with fear
for all these years.

And so, like him,
I vomit out barbed words
that gnaw on those I love.
I choke on what I cannot keep down,
and I bite the hand that feeds me.

  2 comments for “Dentata

  1. TFP
    November 30, 2011 at 5:59 am


    I would like to know the life story here…
    Harsh, painful thoughts here.

    Thank you,

  2. Remittance Girl
    November 30, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    For most of my life, I’ve had these horrific nightmares of my teeth falling out, or becoming soft and shredding… just like fingernails. I told a psychiatrist about these recurring dreams, and after a lot of digging, I remembered that when I was very young – perhaps 6 or so, I was secretly poking around in a chest of drawers in my parents’ room. I found a pair of my father’s false teeth in a plastic bag. Of course, to me they were very big – and horrible and huge. I thought they were the teeth of a dead person.

    And, of course, I could not tell anyone about the terror, because I was not supposed to be poking around in their private things.

    My father gave me the knack of words. A love of language and a very sharp, wounding tongue.

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