Ode to My Father’s Teeth

Cydnee Devereaux

BPR 47 | 2020

Joy was my father’s false teeth
set in coral-colored acrylic.

When adjusted the right way,
he’d exhale a whistle like a flute

through the space dividing gum and tooth.
In the hospital after shooting

a 16-penny nail through his finger,
he loosened them with his tongue

and lisped, See? I’m okay, baby.
They were double-bagged

among possessions my
mother brought home from identifying his body,

this only bit of him not cremated—
partial plate cloudy with age

like a cataract eye, crusted
with his last meal—cheeseburger,

hot fudge sundae—I popped
it in my mouth. It would not fit.