My Mother’s Teeth

by Lois Klein

came out at night
from the time I was a child.
Her lips sunk in, she

held that porcelain grin
securely in her hand,
brushed as though the teeth

were her own and not
some foreign thing
to polish and keep clean.

Witnessing this ritual,
this proof of loss, I couldn’t
watch, and yet I did.

Each night that gleaming
crescent swam
in its turquoise plastic cup

always by her bed—
in case there was fire, she said,
she wouldn’t want to be

caught dead
without her teeth.

—from Blooming Wild So Close to Home (used by permission of Lois Klein)

Poem of the Month: August 2015

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