Mama's Mouth

October 21, 2010
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a dentist who counts my mother’s
teeth, can learn much more
about my mother than someone

who has known her for ten
years ever knew. he can see all her
missing teeth and know her

childhood. by the time i was
your age i had three teeth pulled
out, my mother tells me

while driving home after being told
by a dentist that i have no cavities.
she wouldn't let me get cavities,

or toothaches, like the ones that cost
three of her teeth by the time
she was my age. how many more teeth

did they pull out when you were in the
army? my father asked her one
day. just two, and a dentist pulled another

two because he could tell
i didn't know much about teeth, she said,
not lifting her eyes from a book.

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