My dentist asks, “Have you been stressed this year?
These past twelve months, you’ve ground your teeth so much,
the enamel’s near-completely disappeared.
These flattened molars will soon hurt to touch:
ice cream will give you pain, as nerve fibers
become exposed, and the next thing you know,
you will be hit by cavities, or worse.”
Were I a shark, I’d have more than one row
of teeth, but this one set is all I have.
My bestial twin, then, is the Weddell seal,
an animal that wields its teeth to carve
holes in Antarctic ice to breathe through, till
its teeth get worn to stumps and then it starves.
(It’s funny I believe in Darwin still.)
Jenna Lê is the author of Six Rivers (NYQ Books, 2011), which was a Small Press Distribution Bestseller, and A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora (forthcoming from Anchor and Plume Press, 2016). Her poetry, fiction, essays, criticism, and translations appear or are forthcoming in AGNI Online, Bellevue Literary Review, The Best of the Raintown Review, Crab Orchard Review, The Los Angeles Review, Massachusetts Review, The Village Voice, and elsewhere.