Jenna Le



Baby, I bet
you wish you knew
what caused this hurt
you’re going through.

It’s called teething.
This pain you’re in—
bear it once, then
never again!

Compare the ill-
starred manatee:
when some teeth fall
out, others see

this as their cue
to migrate up
the jaw, while new
molars erupt.

Yes, manatees
teethe all their days!
Seals have it worse
still, in some ways:

though seals do not
teethe more than one
time, when their lot
of teeth have run

their course (from carv-
ing too much ice),
the seal will starve
to death. Not nice.

See, there’s no call
to cry boohoo,
dear infant—all
beasts envy you!

Jenna Le ( is the author of Six Rivers (NYQ Books, 2011); A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora (Indolent Books, 2017), an Elgin Awards Second Place winner, voted on by the international membership of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association; and Manatee Lagoon (Acre Books, 2022). She was selected by Marilyn Nelson as winner of Poetry by the Sea’s inaugural sonnet competition. A daughter of Vietnamese refugees, she has a B.A. in math and an M.D. and works as a physician in New York City.