It Stays with You – M. Stone

It Stays with You

I.

My mouth houses too many tenants—
overcrowded incisors and molars
yielding no space for canines.

The pediatric dentist recommends
a second surgery. I inhale grape-scented
gas from a rubber mask, am transported
to a twilight state. Nitrous oxide leaves me
limp and mute, swallowing dread.

I know from the time before
I will still feel the needle stab
in the roof of my mouth,
the curve where my jaws connect.

Hours are minutes, seconds are hours.
I regain use of my limbs. My cheeks packed
with bloody gauze, I carry a triple offering
for the Tooth Fairy in a plastic vial.

II.

Today in the dentist chair, I grow clammy
and wan, trembling—struck by sudden flu.

He guides a syringe toward my mouth.
No gas to subdue me now. My hand strikes,
snake-fast, connects with his arm. He pauses,
says, “It stays with you, doesn’t it?”

I nod, reply between shallow breaths:
“Let’s try it without, this time.”

M. Stone is a bookworm, birdwatcher, and stargazer who writes fiction and poetry while living in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. She can be reached at writermstone.wordpress.com.

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