In my dreams I always lose a tooth. At the ball game
or during the start of sex. They leap from my mouth
even when it’s closed, charged and heavy like magnets
shuttling back to the earth’s core. “Invoke Apollonia”
in red pen on the Post-it by my glasses when I wake.
The virgin martyr of Alexandria burgeoning in the cheap pine
of our bathroom cabinet; hair of floss, breath of spearmint, eyes
that peel away years of coffee stains or worse.
In March it had been Apollonia at the office, gold crown in tow.
Your lone black molar shrinking from her as gauze billowed
from your cheeks. Our patroness of dentistry, the light within
the light within the plastic shield perched above that uncomfortable
vinyl chair, glowing down upon all that blessed metalloid through
the anesthesia mist. Our misdeeds weighing on her as she worked:
sin of peanut brittle at the Burnam’s Christmas party, sin of mis-thrown
baseballs at dusk, sin of thumb-sucking for years during thunderstorms
and worse, the nervous grinding that replaced it.
And what advancements we do reap from her torturous end. The shattered
32 of her own wet mouth left in disarray for a thousand years so we could
invent the veneer and antiseptic mouthwash. Credit her these as well:
miracle of the porcelain inlays in your mother’s head, miracle of the dental brace
for the future firstborn, likely Carl, miracle of brushing even
while drunk, for us and all other saps with morning breath haunts.
Fawn not for notorious Valentine and his lulling crooner’s tongue
or the Maid of Orleans who only comes out with the wine at dinner.
Ours is the keeper of fair shakes. How in our dreams we always
eat the candied apple, wake full-mouthed to the whir of diamond drills.
Damian Caudill is currently working on a series of poems surrounding lesser known patron saints. This poem details the poet’s infatuation with St. Apollonia, the patron saint of dentistry, inspired by the anxiety caused by dentistry. Damien is interested in how we so often mix divinity into the most mundane experiences.