said he would need an hour and a half
so I counted time by the 3 minute
easy-listening songs
they play in an attempt
to ease me
between the drill
and suction

5 songs
times three: 15 minutes
comes the smell
burning enamel and silver amalgam
is it toxic?
I ask my own brain
my mouth held open with the prop
dental dam stretched tight
I am verbally paralyzed

10th song
half an hour
Lionel Richie?
dentist tells the hygenist
hang a clip
and onto my lip
she places one thin metal hook
then another
I try to recall
the medical porn scenes
I got into a few years back
but the fantasy didn’t last

later research tells me these “lip clips”
were “contrary electrodes”
used to electronically measure the apex of the root
curious? you can get ten lipclips on amazon
for just $8.99

12 songs
36 minutes
okay this is going to sound annoying
he warned
before the high pitched drill drove in
as if the other sounds were pleasant
I make lists for our trip
small bottles
pack silky pajamas
extra chargers

think the residual nausea may be
from whatever harsh
liquid burned down my throat
about 13 songs through
sweet dreams are made of this
I make a noise
raise my left hand
he asks
bad taste?

they pull the rubber dam
the clip

he told me later
it was an unexpected crack
in the root
the liquid leaked out
what liquid?
(more questions I did not ask)


15 songs
Cold Play Paradise
the pain starts dull
then deep
I raise my left hand

he asks

he does something
then something else

packs in
packs in
I stop counting songs
try to sleep
she raises my seat
removes the dark glasses

so this root here
he points to the x-ray
was deeper than we thought
and curved like this

I can speak
but still just

you will need to come back
in 3 weeks


(I read as a girl that dentists
have a high rate of suicide
so I always try to be nice)

he asks me to bite down
to see if the crown is too high
(it is)
but I give a thumbs up
because I need to get the fuck out of there
I will deal with it later
maybe make a playlist
after vacation