Wild Creatures

By | 13 May 2024

After Natalie Damjanovich-Napoleon’s Syzygy

eighteen years of diminutives.
What do I call you now
to represent our new alliance?
What treat does this name represent?
I must learn a new routine,
in concert with the pain in my tooth,
my heart throbbing in my jaw and neck when I bend forward.
White tombstone pills dull the ache to a subtle throb.

There is no panacea for what else ails me.

Last night you knocked on my bedroom door,
sudden politeness that chilled more than epithets.
My name a single syllable
lobbed from your mouth to the waiting air.

At the dentist
I sit, still as the deep of water
in his chair.
Quiet as he prods painfully in my mouth
with pick, alongside the bitter mewing of a miniature saw.
Salt water runs down my throat.

I nearly drown

as I am flung forward into a windswept landscape.
Seabirds caw mournfully, flapping
figures of eight
in every direction.

His overhead light shines,
its stretched, non-human arm clean and clear on my face.
This is his fourth attempt, and I am losing my nerve:
as he repeats

this shouldn’t hurt but you will feel some


I don’t know if you are pulling me, or I am pulling you.

He balances, rotates his wrist
in self-contained circles,
hideous grinding in my jaw,
focused attention,
gentling me with soothed murmurs
as I gasp and flap
like a wild bird
trying to escape
the hunter’s gun.

We are trying to burn and bury
this thing between us,
all these years
rising phoenix-like
two wild creatures spooked
by their own shadows.

He finally succeeds,
wet, bloody hole where a molar was.
I can’t help the tears, the crack of an eggshell
split asunder yolk
and heart
then and then and then again.

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