Poem: Trista Edwards

Salted Teeth

I’m in the root cellar burying my teeth.
In this dream, they’ve fallen out again—
no, they’ve shattered. I’m spitting

shards into a cool, shallow pit. I can see myself
from behind, a stooped creature pawing
the dirt with rabid, scuttling fingers.

No blood or slaver only porcelain splinters
spurt from my mouth. They become bones.
The femur of mouse, rib of a plover,

the lunate of a lover. When I was a girl,
there lived the legend of salted teeth.
Upon the loss of a milk tooth, it shall be smothered

in salt then burnt. The penalty for not burning
is to search for the tooth in a pail of blood
after death. But this is not departure. This is sleep.

I’m not searching, I’m expelling. Everything
is control but I can’t explain how. My teeth
become bones become animals become birds

become you. I bury it all. Softly, the mound
suffocates. It is dirt that burns the lungs
of the past. Fire is weight. Blood is air

leaving the body. When I wake up, my mouth
will be full but you will still be buried.
My teeth will be mine again—

            to grind, to ache, to bite.
Trista Edwards is a poet, traveller, crafter, creator, mermaid, and an old soul. She currently serves as co-director of Kraken, an independent poetry reading series in Denton, Texas. She is also a contributing writer at Luna Luna Magazine. Her poems and reviews are published or forthcoming in The Journal, Mid-American Review, 32 Poems, American Literary Review, Stirring: A Literary Collection, Birmingham Poetry Review, The Rumpus, Sou’wester, Moon City Review, and more. She recently edited an anthology, Till the Tide: An Anthology of Mermaid Poetry (Sundress Publications, 2015).

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