The old Hitachi dual cassette was pain
and elegant with age, and the branches were,
and the sash window was open with pain,
and the afternoon was adequate, and pain.
Children rollerskating in the street were pain
and the hum of the imminent sunset was.
Would I say today was, and all today’s heirs?
Yes, I would bet tomorrow morning on it.
My mouth these many years was wealthy with pain.
For so many years, I thought prodigal meant
destined to return transformed and beloved.
The dentist doesn’t ask me where I’ve been.
I’m tired of the war, I wanted to say,
but my jaw fell slack, so he buried the nerve,
finding in his caulking gun of composite
the inverse of a tooth, the way a good eye
can find intemperate horses galloping
within a block of marble. Then the x-rays.
I’ve been setting off supermarket alarms
lately, I wanted to say, to tell someone.
Whose are the dreams I’m having? I’m never there
on the balcony, with free jazz and treason.
Then the pain was replaced with its memory,
which is to say that nothing ever changes.
He left. The hygienist grew ungenerous
with silence. I rinsed with something glowing green.
You know she talks about you sometimes? she said.
Who does? I said.