Matthew Siegel


Nancy asks me if I've been stressed as she digs a hook between my teeth.
With her hands in my mouth I gurgle and grunt as she says
You've been grinding. She scrapes a tooth and my eyes liquefy. 

She asks if I've been flossing in that way that lets me know
she knows I haven't. The blood I spit into the little plastic sink
proves it. I tell her I flossed before I came, she replies Not good enough

and slaps a lead vest over my genitals. Bite down. Turn your head. She
positions a machine next to my face, turns the light off and leaves. It beeps
and clicks and she flips the light back on, yanks the film from my mouth, 

holds the tiny x-ray to the light. She grips my jaw and looks
in the cave of my mouth as if she's about to crawl inside. Humming,
she shoots a needle full of novocaine into the softest part of me. 

I breathe loudly as she hushes me with an unexpected tenderness
that reminds me there is nothing cruel or unusual about this.         



With my face buried in supermarket flowers,
I spent the entire evening. What would happen
if you chose never to love me?

My telephone failed to reach you so I left
the arrangement in my car under the streetlight.
It glowed there like something sealed up inside me.

I brought them into the house where I untied the ribbon
that held them together, put them into the freezer.
Hours later I wanted them for me, but by then

the petals were weak, translucent in kitchen light.
So I walked them out the back door,
threw them under the house. The next day they were

mostly rotted in mid-bloom. I split the stem of one,
ran my thumb along the wet insides. They were alive,
the irises, somehow still blue as veins.