The Whole Tooth

by David Borrott

Of the various evolutionary explanations of the tooth,
I side with fish scales. It is a short swim
from a defensive attribute to an offensive one.

The tooth is composed of hard, durable material.
It is often our last enduring remnant. In this way
the tooth of certain persons has become famous.

Although it has, in reserve, ornamentality
and even a stone-like placidity,
biting and tearing are primary to the tooth.

The eruption of the tooth in infancy is,
for most of us,
the foundational experience of pain.

Nowadays, it is a mere inconvenience
to live without the tooth. In previous times,
it would have been fatal.

The tooth can be eroded over decades
or removed by a hammer blow.
The tooth that is no longer functional is liable to decay.

Without the tooth, language is slippery.
It is hard to say “the thing as you think it”.
It is difficult to tut.

In truth, without the tooth, we must eat mush.