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This poem is taken from PN Review 243, Volume 45 Number 1, September - October 2018.

Two Poems Sophie Hannah
A Man with Straight White Teeth

Today, at an appointment with my dentist,
he revealed his own teeth. That’s right – he opened
his mouth, flared his lips and flashed a full set.
If you ask him why (and don’t bother, please)
he’ll say it was part of a demonstration
of how to brush, and how not to brush,
for my benefit and for no other reason at all.

He would never admit to resentment, or wanting to hurt me.
He had teeth all along, of course, and I should have guessed,
though he kept them well hidden. I should have jumped up and pressed
his top lip hard with my index and middle fingers, to check.

I made it clear what I wanted and hoped for. That’s why he lied.
When a dentist utters the words ‘my teeth’, it ought to mean
his patients’ teeth, not his. Where, otherwise, is his sense
of ownership?  What’s at stake in my mouth for a man
...


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