by Marshall Jamison

Just down the long block from storied Harvard Square
In a tired old building, up a well worn stair
Practiced a dentist my trusting mother thought was great
But at eight, I withheld even skeptical approval until
perhaps a later date.
He pointed out to my mother and me, pridefully, that
right across the street
Stood the Widener Library, pride of Harvard’s true elite.

The overwhelming edifice seemed to almost reach the sky.
Brick, cement and mortar filled my wide and staring eye
When I sat shivering in his ancient patient’s chair.
Nervous, suspicious, alarmed and hating to be there.

So for a dozen years or so this fumbling, well-meaning chap
tried to improve our relationship
As he drilled, filled and cemented in my mouth with
only an occasional slip.

Then came the day when he greeted me with a sly, dry
but excited grin
And reported the startling news to me, Your wisdom
teeth have at last grown in!
He continued with these excited shouts, You know,
my boy, you’ll have to have those extremely long fangs out!

That’s when I should have recalled my early boyhood’s
doubt!

Instead, six months of unending pain, a very, hurtful
bout
Until that lout finally pulled and pulled and got those molars out!

I wondered when I got his total, final charge for the
very rough and tough extraction
Why it had taken so long for me to remember my (very)
first gut reaction!

So now no more ancient dentist chair, no more
the Widener view!

Even my mother now agrees those things we will
eschew!

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