portion of the artwork for Laura McCullough's poem

My Daughter Lost Her First Tooth Today
Laura McCullough

The new tooth already penetrating
             the surface of her gum, the small pearl of it,
             bald metaphor,
             darkly humorous, here, here is the world!
             the old one with its one small point of red,
             what had been the connection,
             the residue of blood, under her pillow
             for that last childhood lie called mystery
             in the guise of pink-tutu-ed and winged creature,
             somewhat pagan, a fairy perhaps? Something
             to take away the symbol of innocence lost,
             leave what?—my god, money—in its place.

I knew a child once with only one eye.
His name was David and he had leukemia.
His uncle built him a train in the backyard
             of his fancy and well landscaped house.         It worked.
Sometimes, all of us kids would be invited to ride the train.
With the poor kid with one eye.

He was dead before we were all twelve.

There was that experiment in science class,
             the one where a cut stem white flower
             is set into a vial of colored liquid. Like dye
             for Easter eggs. The flower absorbs it;
             the petals are infused. The cells have all been penetrated.
                      Purple            Magenta            Cerulean

Stephen says he hates those who use words like cerulean.
Sometimes a sky is just gray.                                        Just a sky.

A tooth is a milestone. I am getting big, she exclaims!

The pearl-bordered fritilla is an early spring butterfly.
They depend on dandelions for nectar.

I’ve always buried my children’s teeth in the garden.
             A tooth can not be just a tooth.
             It is sky.
             It is wooden wheels.
             It is the sins of the fathers.
             It is dreaming of money.
             It is no money to give
                    and the neighbor’s car repossessed in the night,
                    all of us awakened by the tow truck, the hammer-lock,
                    the dumb stare of humiliated denial,
                    no more sleep tonight for the adults,
                    just the children who will awaken early,
                    who will look to see if the Tooth Fairy left money,
                    who will be excited because the neighbor’s children
                    are riding with us to school today, piled in the back
                    like people used to do, before they had to wear seat belts,
                    before we believed we could protect children
                    from every possible thing.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 30 | Fall 2010