Perfect Smile

by Colette Bryce

The time has arrived again to attend
to my bite, now that my bark is perfected.
Time to attend to my toothstones, chisels,
choppers, nippers, laughing gear,
my string of pearls, my wolfish incisors,
molars, mashers, porcelain shelves,
“a newer Sèvres pleases, old ones crack”.


Three teeth, he says, holding up three fingers.
Jaws sink down into warm putty; the soft
fwap of removal, muttered approvals,
Paris attacks on the news, before
some asinine pop that takes you back.

Okay? “Fine.” The shrill malarial
whine of the drilling enters your brain on
burning threads as your grip on the armrests
tightens, jaws widen, ache
like the jaws of a python measuring up
to the unexpected breakfast of a goat.


Eyes shut, you retreat to a tropical island
far away, perhaps that very one
where Selkirk was kinggovernmentandnation.
The snake will require a longish siesta
after this, while you retrieve your coat

from the hook on the door and slink
through reception with its ad campaign
for Invisalign, “the clear alternative
to braces”, into the aircon cavern of your car
to inspect each fang in the rear-view mirror.

Read Colette Bryce’s ‘Behind the poem’ article on ‘Perfect Smile’