The Soldier and his Poison: a Dental Duel

  

The battle begins at the rising and the setting of the sun.
 
There he is, the scoundrel.
Waiting, staring, still. Silent and motionless in his metal cup.
The disproportionate comb is focused.
He is preparing for our daily battle of brush upon calcium brick.
Every day and night, this cunning soldier stands erect.
His loyal companion, Col, stands by his side. Let not his squidgy body fool you.
Col is the gate to the crucial chemical penetration. Col is the poison, the soldier – the spiny syringe.
 
Col and Sol wait. At the encroaching tread of my bare feet on blood-coloured tiles, they signal to each other with telepathic talent: and the shining light of the heavens above is switched – ON!
 
I, fishing an oat from a tooth, stride in.
Dressed in my royal striped bed-wear, I am a soldier too.
 
Col’s poison is squeezed silently from his shiny body, and the soldier waits for the great jet of icy liquid to permeate his bristles. Not a noise pierces the air, but for the incantation under my breakfast breath: Pearly-white ONE-TWO, Pearly-white ONE-TWO, Pearly-white….
 
The soldier ascends. My battleground is open wide. The battle begins!
 
Tooth against soldier, tooth against paste, the pain and suffering is relentless.
The bricks hold a solid stance; a powerful posture, but Col and soldier are in the prime position for attrition. The pain of my weak pink gums! The pain of my bewildered red tongue! Like a fat golden retriever, it is flopped and brainless – no help to the fight.
My cream-coloured gems gnash and gnaw. Outside of the action, the faucets watch on, stunned in their silver spectatorship.
Hot is gunning for me, Cold is gunning for the enemy.
 
Suddenly! Without warning, without a chink in the air, without a teapot or a hat, without Margaret Thatcher, without Charles de Gaulle, without –
The soldier falls.
 
Time slows. The moment seems to last a lifetime.
 
And then there he is, lying splat in a mess of saliva and frothy white.
 
And I realise something amazing. We were on the same team all along.
We were playing the same game – I no longer need to be afraid.
We shouldn’t be fighting each other, we should be fighting together.
We’re fighting the bacteria.
 
I save the noble stick from the floor, mop up Col’s suds kindly, and put my new friends back in their Ikea-cup home. You get some rest, pals – I prod them affectionately.
My day has never begun so well.
 
Tonight, the three of us will battle together,
and I’ll smile wider, and cleaner than ever.
 

Evening seminar

She was talking up to the ceiling
orange LED reflected in her teeth
 
I felt like – what did you say?
oh yes, Youth Group
the hall reminded you of Youth Group
 
Not that I was ever there in the first place
another girl’s past splayed out before me
 
The topic was colour
and my back ached like stone
 
Light danced like a junior-school disco
my friend in glasses smiled meekly

Rubbing her hand
across the circular table
 
We were somewhat stale, or grown up
 
Before leaving
I took a sip of water,
then a gulp,
then poured the glass over myself
 
Ran head up
dripping from the theatre

 

Dorset

Eating raspberries
Half an hour before
you talked of your sister’s achievements

“Not that you aren’t special too!”

And something cracked
as the heartless man in the car-park
shouted an insult
at your beautiful, shaky-fingered Gran

“No, n-no, that was my fault, it – “

The Dorset clouds gathered
snickered and rained fatigue
all down your cheeks

You’re getting older
drip drip
You’re just getting older
drip drip

And a trickle of failure maybe
through the buttons of your shirt

Holding the creased paper bag
a quiet kind of melancholy softness seeping through
Her and through

your younger body standing next to Her