Mary Makofske

Milk Teeth

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from The Disappearance of Gargoyles:

Milk Teeth

In the jewelry box, under fake
gold and silver, imitation stones,
I uncover these raw pearls of teeth.

The jagged edges where they tore loose
from the gums are hollow in the middle,
and in some, the old blood ages brown.

I could not throw them out, these fragments
of their bodies. Now I can’t tell
whose teeth they were, pocked and uneven

as those years when time slowed to a leaf
seen on our walks, unfolding day by day,
or repeated itself like sandbox castles.

So near the nerve, the cavities
carved by sweetness in that enamel
boredom. Teeth formed around my milk,

outgrown and thrust away. I see them strung,
the medicine man’s bone necklace.
When I hunted under pillows trading

these for quarters, I made the best bargain.
Now they jangle in my palm, a currency
rising in value, these healing stones.