San Francisco Symphony

Waiting for the Novacaine

The root still lives
but the tooth is shaved off,
capped in plastic,
awaiting its crown of
not porcelain like the other two
but the GOLD
of Rushes, and bouillon,
and dead bodies,
like the prison ones in books
that are robbed of fillings,
an experience unchanged
from the days of Dickens.

Like the pennies on dead eyes
that I suddenly saw the purpose for
at my mother's bedside,
and how, when her jaw fell,
I knew why Jacob Marley had that
toothache rag around his face.

I told this to my sisters that night,
who never knew before
how useful reading can be.

~ Phoebe Grigg
UCSF staff