Tooth

for my son

How thrilled and afraid you were,
when I looked at you over the popcorn bowl
and said It's ready.

We were deep in the warm darkness of the sofa.
The bowl was still bigger than you. Time to finally lose
what your friends had already lost and replaced with larger
and more lasting. How you wanted it.

But I don't want you to take it, you uttered
when I knelt in the white light of the bathroom.
It doesn't hurt, I said, and the blood tastes good -
I looked at you. That was hard to believe.

How easy that a fairy will buy it up in the night for a shiny coin.
Or that in India they throw the tooth on the roof for a sparrow.
In El Salvador a rabbit takes the tooth - in France, La Petit Souris.
Libya and Botswana, the sun and the moon.

All these things we had read that very day in your latest issue
of Noodle. We were having root beer floats after school -
the golden hour when we hover between worlds,
before dinner and the evening news . . . it was days

before you would taste true loss with the death of Simon, the cat -
our laughing at how unbelievably bad the garbage cans
by the ice cream shack picnic table smelled, reading Noodle.
You secretly loosening.

We'll try two times, I said, and if it doesn't work we we'll wait.
At first, you didn't think it had come - as if I had pulled hard
for nothing - until you dipped your tongue into the hole
and looked at my hands. We held it up to the light.
How small! How hard to believe.



Megan Gillespie

~Appeared in The Florida Review