Today I am changed

by a neighbor of
ambiguous ethnicity,
too beautiful to ignore,

out walking her dog,
who can scarcely
contain his friendliness

(they are each multilingual
and kind),  and she a
therapist, to boot,

who tells me she brushes
her teeth differently
each time, disrupting habit,

who encourages me
to do the same.
It can change

your life, she says,
and today it does, it
changes my life, my

left hand awkward on
the toothbrush handle,
the new toothpaste clumsily

cleansing buccal and
lingual surfaces, insinuating
mesial and distal, until finally

the pressure — inconstant,
unfamiliar — frees the
ghosts of my baby

teeth, who brighten then
fade into a primordial
jaw, ontogeny reversing

phylogeny until my
animal tongue is
mute and wise

with hunger;
with wonder.


  1. Provocative title, Rafiki


    1. Intriguing, I hope. 🙂


  2. Amazing! Both the poem and the suggestion to disrupt habitual motions … probably brought smiles too?


    1. Hoping so! Thanks, Jazz.


  3. It pays to change things up sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You and I might be connected somehow through the unknown. 🙂 Last week I had a conversation with my wife about how we get so set in our ways our routines get boring. I suggested we try changing simple things, like brushing our teeth with our left hands, and that it would probably be good for our brains. I’ve done it twice since then. Yup, it’s humorously difficult!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great practice, though! I’ve read how using a nondominant hand, in particular, can work backwards, in the colloquial, on the brain’s wiring, creating new connections and perhaps fostering creativity. Apart from toothpaste all over the sink, what’s not to like? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Exquisite! This is a testament to a poet whose life is oriented toward the search for and the embodiment of poetry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Such a lovely compliment, Stephanie; thank you. If my life were a book, I’d ask you to write the cover blurb. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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