Dentist Appointment


Dentist Appointment

A poem by Adrian Patenaude


my tongue shrinks and shies
from the light, like
some deep sea creature
i obey commands:
open wider
bite down

dictating a poem
as my neck tenses
and fingers stiffen
on my stomach
the sharp pick scrapes
and the cold stream sprays
on thinning enamel
but bracing for pain is more painful
than any true twinges

the last time i wrote a poem in pain
i was gliding 
on a gurney
building a memory
with details: false ceilings
so my pain would have meaning
if not meaning, a use
if not use, what’s the use?
i steal a breath
and swallow 
as the dentist reaches
for a new tool
what of this moment?
isn’t it enough
to simply be
cared for?