Clearing out a cupboard reveals teeth
in a box like sacred relics, old baby
bones, broken and cracked
with age. Hoary wives whisper Bury
them in the garden… and so what
will grow? The time has passed,
since your toothy 3-year-old smile
at a streetlight answered my request
to feel soft flesh, warm and pliable
to touch, a hand I made from scratch,
in my own. Your No a shock, stopped
me dead in my tracks. Why? Because,
you insisted. You had already enclosed
something else in empty fists & moved on,
exposing a world in your mind with no door
for me to wander through, have a look,
sit for a while, ponder my place. Baby
teeth fill my palm - a past part of you
like a missing link - the gaps, now straightened
caries, wisdom extracted fourfold. They leave
me queasy yet captivated by the vastness
of those minute vacant spaces.
Salt on Wounds
The summer of ’76 must have been
exceptionally wet. The alleyway off
the side of the house was an ecological
niche - a fructifying place for slugs to grow.
A place where a seven-year-old self
could learn the many uses of salt.
They mounted wooden walls, scooted
slowly across sidewalks until I stood
over them, spouted carton in hand, a twin
Morton’s ad girl, only with intent to pour.
My sadistic reign surprised me then
and now. I watched them wiggle and worm,
listened to the hissing sound of water
escaping for a renewed outer balance
without batting an eye or moving
away till little more than lifeless stains
were left on the path. Like Tommy who
would pin me down beneath his morphing
muscles, while protruding members looked
for places to hide. I wonder if he too thought
osmosis would occur in that first search
for something to help him grow, his wet tongue
rooting around my mouth – that open gash
that never really healed, despite the salt.
Born and raised on the Eastern Shore, Jennefer Cole currently lives and works in Paris, France with her husband and three daughters. Poetry allows her to untangle the worlds she lives in: woman, wife, mother, daughter, in between countries and voices.