Wisdom Teeth

That time I was marooned
by a toothache – weeping eyes
screwed shut, mouth agape –
I might’ve been taken for someone
in the throes of ecstasy, lying
on the couch with all
the windows open. The weather
was June, and wonderful.
All afternoon I clung to the thread
of the brown thrasher’s song.

Even in extremis it’s simple
to tell a thrasher from his cousin
the catbird: he repeats
almost every improvised line.
Paired phrases sometimes reach
into the low thousands
without repeating.

Pain can sound exactly like
the world, I thought.
Neither can be replicated.
Art lets us exceed
ourselves, and so escape.

both wisdom teeth had to come out.
For a week or two I had to chew
deliberately. Each bite
of food was accompanied
by a mouthful of thought.

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