i’m brushing my teeth and i watch
the faucet swirl all red down the drain, the dentist
said my gums would keep bleeding, my teeth
would fall like pearls to the sea
unless i treasure my smile –
he doesn’t need to know it’s
my bite that counts
still, i floss every night now.
the bubbles in the sink are foamy spray
toothpaste and blood, crimson and fluoride
on porcelain, such
a stark and gorgeous sea;
polar bears tear seal flesh and stain the snow
with the brilliant ache of loss.
the dentist doesn’t need to know
that my teeth fall out each night
i cup my hands around my mouth
and let my smile fall
like a string of mother’s pearls
into these awestruck palms
a rosary, a Hail Mary, the stars of the sea
singing to me.
sometimes the teeth crumble slowly
and i feel the grit
broken china on my tongue
i spit myself
into the gutter, and the ocean swallows up
my jaws, ivory and iron
the violence in my canines crushed to silence
by the waves.
i’m horrified most
by the softness of my own mouth – without a grain of sand
to settle in and
till I’m worth something,
i don’t know who i am.
i have shed so much and still carry the fear, clearly
i have more teeth to lose.
it will hurt worse and i
will do it on purpose – i need
Jess Roses is a chronically ill, neurodivergent creator. Her focus is the transformation of relationships with pain and the taboo, exploring how these communal experiences relate to power structures within and without the psyche. She has been published in Ghost Girls, Misandry Zine, and has upcoming work in Gaia Lit. Find her on Instagram and Facebook at @jessrosesofficial.