Weaker than Water

"In the world, there is nothing more submissive and weak than water. Yet for attacking that which is hard and strong, nothing can surpass it." –Lao Tzu


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It’s like
a saltless ocean.
They say
it can’t ever happen.

I was four.
I’d torn out my eye tooth,
now a bloody barnacle between
thumb and forefinger,
something of a mystery,
something of a horror,
certainly something.

I examined it like a scientist,
touched its edges, jagged
with the efforts of having grown,
tried sticking it back in,
fitting it into that unnatural
hole in my mouth, sea cave
stripped of its artifact
by some rude and aging brute.

I felt I’d lost something rare,
a gem or something,
maybe something I’d seen on t.v.,
something found that, at first,
seems to have no value
or consequence,
but later is recognized
as wantonly precious.

I pushed the rootless bottom
back into the swollen gum,
wishing it would stick,
wondering why it wouldn’t
grow new skin, reattach itself,
succeeded only in
covering my hand in blood.
I watched in fascination
as it ran down my forearm,
towards my elbow,
bent like a perverted whim.

I was a curious child.
If the tooth wouldn’t go back in,
I wanted to see
how far the blood would go,
how long before
it would fall on the carpet,
make a stain.

So I watched it wind around
like a magic tributary,
watched it come to that point
we all do,
the one at the tip
where there’s nowhere else
to go. We’ve reached the end,
no way to turn
the thing around,
wrap it up in newspaper,
throw it into the compost pile,
forget anything has happened
or even record it accurately
so when the grandchildren ask,
“What’s it like to lose a tooth?”
there’s no real way to answer.

So I just stood still,
watching blood bead up
on my funny bone,
getting ready to drop,
like a tear.

Copyright May 6, 2014
Katherine M. Gotthardt


Author: All Things Writing, LLC

Katherine Gotthardt is CEO of All Things Writing, LLC, a full-service content development and content marketing company. A published writer and seasoned educator, Katherine leads a team of professionals on a mission to make clients shine online and in print.

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