Teeth

From Things You Find in a Poet's Beard by A.F. Harrold

 

Shirley was six when her teeth started to fall out.

Her big brother, Ben, told her not to worry.

He said it happened to him,

he said it happened to everyone,

and told her she’d get new teeth in time.

 

In fact, to prove his point

and to set her mind at ease

he snuck into their gran’s bedroom one night

and by the light of a small torch

showed her the dentures floating in the bedside glass.

 

Ben told Shirley that soon enough

their mum would take her to the dentist’s

to be fitted with dentures of her own –

a clanky toothy plastic plate

Shirley was sure she would hate to have to wear.

 

She cried and cried when a second tooth became wobbly

and her mum asked her what the matter was

and Shirley explained between fearful sobs

and her mum said that Ben, even though he was her son,

was just an idiot.

 

Of course, new teeth grew from underneath

where her milk teeth had been

and she told her brother Ben that she wouldn’t need false teeth,

not for years and years, although if he played a trick like that again

he might be needing them that much sooner.