A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Dental Matters

Yesterday I had to visit the dentist. While some of us may be lucky enough to escape much dental treatment, I'm afraid I belong to the category of people whose life history is intimately bound up with the history of their teeth. My previous National Health dentist, whom I saw regularly for nearly 20 years, died suddenly in bed one night at a relatively young age. Since then there's been a succession of replacements possessing wildly varying abilities and personalities. None have stayed with the dental practice for long. One of these took an initial brief tour inside my mouth and almost wept. After some minor treatment I left feeling quite depressed at his pessimistic gloom. The dentist I saw yesterday was a new young woman with exceptional practical and communicative skills. She's probably the best dentist I've ever had. This is a poem I've just written about the experience. I went in to have my crown fixed but left with a tooth extracted - as beneath the crown the tooth had become rotten and infected.

Disarming me with your casual style,
You welcome me into the room
Next to the room of the dentist who died.

At your request I take a seat,
Lie down, relax, let go,
Like a patient on an analyst's couch.

I am in your intimate hands.
The chair spins as you adjust
The feng shui in your chamber.

I hand you my broken crown.
You laugh rather derisively,
Needling me to go the whole way.

My head tilts up then down.
I submit with a sigh to your desires.
Beyond my field of vision

Lie all the sharp instruments
Of your calling. I gaze fixedly
At the child's mobile on the ceiling.

You probe my mouth:
A gentle but firmly precise
Oral speleology. The female skills

Of needlecraft and stumpwork come to mind.
Gone is the sour cigar or garlic breath
Of certain male practitioners,

Just a clean, fresh lack of odour.
I feel nothing now. The tooth is out,
You say in an insouciant tone.

Later I'll feel the pain of loss.
Oh, Mistress Novocaine,
Let me tell you my dreams:

The purple sage of Mexico,
The burning sarsaparilla,
Hot chilli peppers in the blistering sun.

Do you know there are cavities
In the heart as well as in the mouth?
But you high-five your acolyte,

And I'm already far beyond your interest
When you politely shepherd me away
And turn to greet the next initiate.


Dominic Rivron said...

Brought back memories of similar experiences.
I have a good one, too. I generally find going to see her quite relaxing. Sometimes I almost doze off.

The Solitary Walker said...

Among countless dentists over the years the best ones have ALWAYS been female - sorry if that sounds sexist, but it's just the truth.

Btw, I've revised many times the poem since 'publishing' it this morning - I think it's better now & has had the rough edges knocked off.

Alan Sloman said...

I think it's your confesson of murdering the first young dentist in his bed that has probably prompted the departure of the subsequent practitioners.

Your love poem might do for the present incumbent....


The Weaver of Grass said...

Love the sexy-dentist poem! Grudgingly agree about gender of dentists. My worst was one who shoved that gurgling thing into my mouth to dry up the saliva (they seem to have disappeared now) and then said "been anywhere interesting?" If I had I couldn't speak! This gave him free range to tell me where he'd been. His best was "we just nipped over to Mombassa for the weekend!!" When are we going to see the revised poem?

The Solitary Walker said...

Sorry, but I was unclear... The revisions were made 'on-line' throughout yesterday - so this is as finished a version as you're going to get! After a while you just have to abandon a poem, don't you, otherwise you go mad.

I'm glad you like it. I like the fact you can (attempt to) write a poem about absolutely anything - even toothache. Whether it's successful or not, however, is quite another matter.

Anonymous said...

This is fab. Wish she was my dental goddess.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Its always good to find a dentist you feel comfortable with. My best dentists have always been women too I've yet to ever write a poem to a dentist, i enjoyed yours...

The Solitary Walker said...

Thank you, cgp.

Seem to have struck a nerve here re dentists of the feminine persuasion!

It's not really a sexual thing, is it - more of a professional-empathic-personality thing.

Though my poem may speak to the contrary!

Val said...

I too "belong to the category of people whose life history is intimately bound up with the history of their teeth."

This was FABULOUS!!

The Solitary Walker said...

Why, thanks, Val!

People like us should stick together. Without us one whole section of the medical industry, sorry profession, would be struggling to make a living.