Father's Teeth
By Jean C. Howard

When we take your teeth

September loosens

its grief—a molar rattling

in old gold.

Aspens shutter.

Their nerves of silver

will soon be packed by winter’s

numbing gauze.

They clink into stainless,

these aging incisors:

depression-fissured, World War II

crew chief gums and jaw;

boxing champion, clamping

furiously on to mouth guard,

the splash of crimson at the glove;

Or jolting from dirt bike,

Steve McQueen-style,

enamels gritty from racetrack


Surviving baby bottles

from years of daughters;

an angry wife, lobbing

from the door; late,

Friday-night poker

at Du-Rite Body Shop;

dropped egg in whiskey swishes

through the mouth;

The steady gnashing

of 9 to 5

to last till pension

for all these years,                                                                                               

But now hard-landing,

tinged vermilion

to be forgotten

then remembered, still

as a sudden crunch, a phantom

sinking into corn,

They fall.

I pray for forgiveness,

your guardian daughter,

leaning on Harley

into switchbacks

of fall.