I often dream of losing teeth,
the crowns hard and dead
but the roots turned to nothing,
sharp enamel edges digging into gums
as I try to fit the molars back in place
like puzzle pieces
that used to be a part of me,
but are no longer mine.

I read once from an untrustworthy source
that dreams of teeth are about beauty and vanity
which I can almost pretend that I believe,
since both are lost in old age,
both are tools weapons and shields,
the sudden loss of either would fill me with the same fear
that I dream of,
while tonguing bloody hollows and pressing teeth to wounds
willing a miracle of bone to reconnect them
hoping to hide until the unknowable solution appears
wiggling the small seeds of my front teeth
like when I was a child.

But if teeth are beauty, then I can’t explain
why in some small fraction of these dreams
I feel no fear,
hands in mouth
pushing teeth to free sharp edges
the familiar, long remembered ache of losing them
I’ve practiced this
I’ve teared at every kind of flesh
and the teeth lift like a weight from inside me
and I cry into a drooling, bloody smile.