When Poppy fell
on Leo and knocked out
his very first loose tooth
he sprang up from the ground
sweeping the carpet with his hands
searching, as if for a silver coin.
Finding it he rose,
triumphant, a ribbon of blood
separating his lip from his bottom row
of remaining teeth, his entire face
a gap-toothed smile.
That night he placed his tooth
in a small plastic box where it rattled
when he shook it and when he took it,
nestled it under his pillow, perhaps
a little bit afraid of
what it meant for the tooth fairy
to visit him while he slept.
Two mornings later (because his tooth
fairy is tired and feeling the gray February
days deep in the bones) Leo woke to find
a crisp, folded $5 bill in the place of his tooth.
he cried, because a piece of him was
and what use does a 6-year-old have
I wonder about the pieces of us we have lost
in the last year, and if we will ever find value
in what we’ve received in exchange.
I kept his tooth in a small plastic bag under
my bed, didn’t have the heart to throw
it away. And I meant to replace it
the next night with a note
from the tooth fairy, explaining
how he could keep this one. But, alas,
I am tired and feeling these gray
February days deep in my bones,
so I forgot. And
after another day,
so did he.
So now there is a tiny tooth, a little piece of him,
in a small plastic bag that I keep
beside my bed. A reminder, I suppose,
of the things we lose, the pain
of loss, and how quickly
life moves on.
* * * * *
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