i lose my teeth in a recurring dream

first they fall out like kindling, like george washington’s wooden grill split and stained from too many apples, they fall around inside the holes of my gums like matches stored upright, not tight enough, the fibers shred into my fingers, they fall without pain, they are so dry i can start a fire in my palm but it does not burn

then they are pulled starting from the back and moving forward, the top row and then the bottom i pull them myself standing barefoot in front of the bathroom mirror with only the barest morning light, i pull one everytime i wake and leave them all around town, a tithe to gods who i know the moment between the tooth in my mouth and the tooth in my fingers

or they fall out with the barest pressure, when i apply lipstick or when i brush them, when i touch the gum line it gives like bubble yum soft and wet but no stick my mouth a plump soil overrun with hard teeth my words must grow around, i gather them until my mouth is lush, i throw them into the sky like rice at a wedding

sometimes they dissolve like tightly packed sand that is overrun with sea, they disappear into my jaw and cheekbone, just gone, leaving the sockets behind a horseshoe of empty spaces i pack them with something new everyday—chocolate sprinkles, cotton balls, bullets


reasons I do not like to be touched

a friend looks at me, exclaims you’re so tiny! & the idea makes me laugh & food doesn’t do what it should anymore & everything in my mouth leaves a tinny taste behind & i clean my tongue with my toothbrush, so far back it leaves me gagging & i only want coffee, bananas, cigarettes & you look like you’ve lost weight! & my teeth feel fragile & my stretch marks are rivers, deep and wide for drowning & my sister used to be fat & food doesn’t do what it could still & you look like you’ve gained weight! & i dreamt my teeth turned to kindling & my stretch marks are paint strokes, red and flaring like fire


Mejdulene B. Shomali is a writer, teacher, and researcher at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Feminist Wire, Mizna, Baltimore City Paper, Diode, Tinderbox and a number of academic journals.