"-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN"> Frigg | Spring/Summer 2023 | As the Dentist Drills a Hole in My Gums, I Think of Bermuda | Genevieve Creedon
artwork for Genevieve Creedon's poem As the Dentist Drills a Hole in My Gums, I Think of Bermuda

As the Dentist Drills a Hole in My Gums, I Think of Bermuda
Genevieve Creedon

Well, first I think about how they should
offer patients ear plugs or a ceiling television
with headphones, something more than the window
that opens onto a bleak February sky, bone gray
above gummy mud. But after a glimpse
of the titanium root-replacement that will fit
nice and snug in there once my very hard jaw bone
has been properly prepared, the darkness behind
my closed eyelids makes its own portal—
and it’s not what you might think, not the sunny
island escape every office worker in America
dreams of by 11 a.m. each weekday morning.

No, it’s the tumble of a child’s body, once mine,
pushed and pulled in the undertow of turquoise
blue that quelled and threatened to consume me—
there is so little I remember about those family trips
to the island, the beach down the road from a house
owned by family friends, who were rarely there
when we visited. Waves crash around and within
me. I don’t know when or even if I will resurface,
see the sun, see my mother’s red lips on the beach,
beyond the brightly colored fish I must be seeking.
The blur of sand and shells that will stay
encrusted in my ears and spread across my belly,
under the swimsuit, like a gift of fairy dust
that I’ll find later, in the bathtub, its waveless water
as unnervingly safe as the quietest silence
that now lets me hear the roaring ring
in my right ear like the sound of air, trapped
and vibrating in a shell the size of my skull.

The drill pauses. The dentist’s masked face hovers.
We just need a little more room to get that cute little guy
in there. I close my eyes hoping for a different scene—
a recently dead friend whose smile seemed
eternal, the constant canine kisses we lost last August,
my father’s bony cheeks, lips sewn shut,
in the empty pandemic funeral home two years ago …
But no: just this suspended swish and tumble.

Genevieve Creedon’s Comments

As a child, I had numerous dental extractions and braces for what seemed like an eternity. I never loved dentists, but I also never feared them. As an adult, however, I have had intermittent and at times extreme pain that until recently remained of mysterious origins. When I was finally diagnosed in 2022 with tooth resorption (possibly from all those years of braces), I was relieved that there was an “answer” and that a remedy was within reach. The extraction was, unsurprisingly, very painful. As this poem investigates, those experiences of physical pain cultivated a new kind of anxiety and even grief around dental work that permeated the next steps in the dental implant process.

Table of Contents

Frigg: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 61 | Spring/Summer 2023