Last week was one of those weeks I'd rather forget - full of medical and dental matters. But the upshot is: I can now hear properly for the first time in weeks, and some troublesome, worn-down teeth have been reconstructed. Praise God the NHS! All this reminded me of a poem I'd written a while ago after a visit to my informal, brilliant, highly skilled, impossibly young female dentist. The 'dentist who died' had been my previous dentist - of many years standing - who had tragically passed away in his sleep...
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.