Numb up to the eyeballs
You pull at my tooth’s root.
Root that was planted in my
Gums since my knock-kneed
Freckle-faced, curly blond-haired youth,
Since school shorts and big ears
and playing at John Barnes in the garden.
Big tree of a molar
And you a big lumberjack dentist,
Wrestling the rotten timber.
At 20, a full week embarked into
my girldoneleftme blues drinking –
hovering like a thirsty sea gull
each morning on Thresher’s shore waiting
till 11 o clock when they lifted the catch off the door.
Sweet cans of fizzy brown
Hid the pain until the evening when sharp spirits
burnt away its lingering memory –
I cycled home triumphant
raced over rattling drains
knocked past bulging kerbs
hurtled round the corner into my own home road
and smashed out an incisor on the tarmac floor.
This time it takes longer
And pliers and drills.
Brown eyes over black-rimmed glasses over a sky blue mask.
“Samwell,” you say, “it is a big tooth.
And you are a big bloke-o:
It may take some time.”
I let it come.
Let it go.
Will it out.
I am grown older,
Wrong in the tooth.
Pain is part of the tradition.
The numbness recedes like an indifferent sea
which drowned for a few hours the nerve ends’ resistance
In its sweeping spring tide
And now the hurt returns.
The hole where the tooth had been
blinks open from misty sleep
and hot sharp light bites in again.
Toothless, greenish pale,
I slunk home shrunken.