A pair of fat, iridescent ducks
struggling to lift
from the green-grey surface of a lake
upon the dentist's office wall
reminds you of the anywhere you'd rather be
as he keeps bringing you back
into the world of gravity
and shrill, bone-corroding drills,
making you pay for all those years
you wasted thinking about
things less real than tooth decay.
In the thin, fluorescent light the ducks
look like an endangered species,
with their heavy, satin bellies
slung low above the pointy waves--
but still, their plumage glows,
and you can see that this is the essential
confrontation--pain and beauty
braced against each other
like a pair of teeth,
a tug of war
in which the prize is you
and whether you will swallow or spit out
this contradictory life.
So you relax, lean back, and open wide,
letting science pave the inside of your mouth
with painkillers and gold.
But you keep looking at the ducks--
long necks outthrust, intent
on their ascent
towards some distant patch of sky
which won't exist
until they get to it.
Like you, they have a motive,
they have an opportunity.
(for Jack Myers)