Thursday, September 15, 2005

All Things Lost

On Tuesday the FYO ran into the street toward BioMom's car after school waving and screaming:


She didn't lose it exactly. As the full story unraveled to BioMom throughout the evening, it turns out that a Four-Square ball was the culprit rather than her first adult tooth pushing its way through her gums like a beansprout.

But like The Little Prince, to the FYO the ends justified the means. This was her first lost tooth and that implied her first visit from the Tooth Fairy!

BioMom gave her a darling little tooth-shaped pouch in which to put the tooth under her pillow that night. And she was so excited that she couldn't help herself but take it out, put it in, take it out, put it in.

FYO, plus tiny item, plus constantly effing with it equals, you guessed it, it gets lost.

Being out of town, I missed all of this.

I returned to my phone to a desperate message from BioMom asking for a call to reassure the FYO that even though she had lost the tooth, that the Fairy would come. The FYO, ever the rule follower, insisted that that was "tricking" the fairy and that she wouldn't get her due rewards.

By the time I called back they had, thankfully, found the tiny piece of enamel that was the broken tooth and she was off to bed. The tooth under her pillow an enormous boulder in her mind.

We settled on a golden Sacajawea dollar as her "reward" but I was moved by the following poem:

The Tooth Fairy

They brushed a quarter with glue
and glitter, slipped in on bare
feet, and without waking me
painted rows of delicate gold
footprints on my sheets wtih a love
so quiet, I still can't hear it.

My mother must have been
a beauty then, sitting
at the kitchen table with him,
a warm breeze lifting her
embroidered curtains, waiting
for me to fall asleep.

It's harder to believe
the years that followed, the palms
curled into fists, a floor
of broken dishes, her chainsmoking
through long sliences, him
punching holes in his walls.

I can still remember her print
dresses, his checkered taxi, the day
I found her in the closet
with a paring knife, the night
he kicked my sister in the ribs.

He lives alone in Oregon now, dying
slowly of a rare bone disease.
His face stippled gray, his ankles
clotted beneath wool socks.

She's a nurse on the graveyard shift.
Comes home mornings and calls me.
Drinks her dark beer adn goes to bed.

And I still wonder how they did it, slipped
that quarter under my pillow, made those
perfect footprints. . .

Whenever I vist her, I ask again.
"I don't know," she says, rocking, closing
her eyes. "We were as surprised as you."

--Dorianne Laux

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