Root Canal at Twenty-Seven

The endodontist peers into my molar, necrotic
      he says. Necrotic, I say. Thick packed black
           like I used to picture smoker’s lungs, Texas plates
                fished out the stomach of catfish, chicken raw

under plastic. It means dead, he says. I know
      what it means, I say. I’m sorry, I say,
            like when my dermatologist flicked the white
                  patch of thigh she sliced six months ago

and asked, who did that? Bitch, you did that.
      We can fix it for you. I’d like to watch them smooth
            me with hot light, beams unlike the ones
                  that raised the brown mole misshapen

from my leg, just as I’d have liked to see
      whatever leaves of me the endo tweezed
            from the deep of my jaw, and like Kristeva
                  says, abjection draws the gaze, the longing

to look/look away at shit or clot-raw tampon
      because it’s me, or it was me, but it’s not quite,
            the unnecessary expelled, waste dumped off,
                  death pushed out so we can keep on trucking,

just like I’ll do, look/look away at my half still
      novocaine face in my rearview. A witch in my mouth,
            a cackle fragment sharp as my tongue,
                  don’t eat any apples this week, they say, like fruit

got me here instead of corn syrup. My dentist thinks
      I’m an idiot. He’s not wrong, he’s just a man
            who’s solved his Oedipal Rubix Cube, sided
                  with his father and now gazes into silent red

of women’s mouths to pry out decay, the not quite
      dead but not quite young, his microscope lenses
            homed in on the coffee-stain. Instruments whine.
                 Cement tacks into crown. I floss with mint

green plastic picks. I wish not to have thought
      bitch at the dermatologist. I look/look away at the trash
            the spittle soaked pile of string. Which parts
                  will biodegrade? Which parts of me belong to me,

and which parts of me are dying? Before, I laid
      the red of my cheek on the grimy tile at three AM
            when my tooth shrieked me awake, uncanny banshee,
                  a pulp throbbing a hymn for the ground down.


Dorsey Craft is the author of Plunder (Bauhan 2020), the winner of the 2019 May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Prize, and the chapbook The Pirate Anne Bonny Dances the Tarantella (CutBank 2020). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Colorado Review, Greensboro Review, Massachusetts Review, Poetry Daily, Southern Indiana Review, Thrush Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. She is currently a Ph.D candidate at Florida State and a poetry editor at The Southeast Review.