Natalie Wall – 1 poem

Cavity 

            

I’ve always had a deep sick fear 

of tooth decay. Something within me, 

something far too near 

rotting, eroding, putrefying. 

The thought scares me awake at night, 

as if I smelled something burning. 

            

Maintaining perfect pearly whites 

was a way of taming deep-set demons, 

keeping clean keeping whole, with that bright 

enamel a badge of personal victory. 

It said “I’m good, I’m restrained, I don’t indulge, I’m pure, 

I’m unsullied by that mercury, wet and silvery.” 

            

I would scour teeth and gums, 

not content until the bloody toothpaste 

spreads bright across the porcelain, white overcome 

with metallic red. Mouth washed raw 

with astringent mint, tongue a fizzing numbness, 

oral hygiene my character’s pathetic tragic flaw. 

            

Four years ago, the dentist poked 

and remarked on molars ground flat, a jaw strained taught, 

and pronounced my fate: a tooth choked 

with rot, begging to be drilled and filled,  

mummified in composite and any shame hidden. 

I refused, moved dentist, all knowledge denied until my fear was stilled. 

            

Another waiting room, another pastel coloured chair 

tacky with the repeated spray of disinfectant –  

but of course it followed, ignored but going nowhere, 

spreading, deepening, growing always more confident. 

Natalie Wall

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