Mouth mirror or elegy for my premolar


it’s how the tongue admits
ache, for me— a thing misnamed,
cavity as if to give the clue of a cave
with walls carved the names
of all i’ve lost before
they are. like faith, like ababa,
efua. god! like ababa, they said
i kept begging in my sleep by his bed
not to leave me. & he did. oh, he did
& i must tell you my mouth has
been echoing the words ever
since. you must not call me
to that fucking mic, tonight. you don’t
want me ruining this
karaoke session sounding like i am
drowning under water trying to recover
sunken paper boats, & keepsakes
i keep letting go of, like i suddenly
sense in them, gps trackers
for all these ghosts, for ruin. ruin
being in a body this black, i go troubling
the face of the deep
waters i’m made of to not reflect an eclipse
of the eye; the coming of a tooth
between my lover’s & mine. troubling
as afrobeats, as clubbing. i do
not want to sing
of this ruin that cast its shadow in my mouth
my dentist calls an aperture,
found with his mouth
mirror on this side of my dentition
used for chewing the cud
secreted by the hippocampus. memories,
i mean. memories, there are, i badly want
to share. i cap you not when i say i leave my mouth
unwashed so you can smell it—
smell dem fresh, green pepper chopped in palm
oil, crushed, roast catfish, boiled yams, chill
coke, my father’s sweat
after dancing to all his nostalgic highlife
tracks. boy, i badly want
to tell it, eating supper with you. yam
dipped in salted palm oil
in remembrance of him, i miss
eucharist, telling you among my good
memories which will betray me
to forgetting is the one born
in my days of innocence. tooth,
as a word for everything slipped pass,
slipping between my fingers, because
everything i shall yet lose is its
mass, it’s weight— an absence
in my mouth my tongue never forgets
to remind me of. & i do not care
that i taste the phonetic symbols
of a thousand words in my mouth
& choose to pronounce tooth. i dare call it
whatever the heck i want to call it, because
everything i lose, & have
ever lost, cries absence
of a missing tooth in my mouth. cries.
says, i must give you premolar as a common root
word for loss— say ahh.

Martins Deep