Friday, January 06, 2006

The Going Rate

I lost my first tooth in Kenya, when I was six in 1953. My dental assistant Sandy told me that she had forgotten to put coins under the pillow for her son Erik, and had given him $5 to make up for former missed visits by the tooth fairy when he last lost a tooth.

That is not what I got
when bloody gummed
I hid the remnant of my tooth
beneath the soft down pillow,

Having played with it for hours
over the last two months,
and worried it till nothing but a tag of pink tissue,
was all that was left between me
and the visit from the tooth fairy.

Failing to mention it to my mother,
sleep slipping soundless through me
with expectant dreams,
yet in her own inscrutable way
she arranged it all,

and two ten cent coins
replaced my trophy of approaching manhood,
thrilling me more than the paper dollars
the modern children tell me they get today,

Especially when they compensate
for times the fairy failed to arrive at the divined appointments,
as working mothers, too tired to remember
let the moment slide away.

N.S.M. 10.17.2005

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