Amalgam by Dawn McGuire

The dentist who says he won’t hurt

leans in with the needle. His furry

arm brushes my nose and I sneeze.

Cranial nerve 5-10 reflex arc

thinks my left hemisphere.

My right wants my father.

The flesh of my inner cheek

receives the needle.


He pierces the pink, pushes in, around, sideways.

Here. And here. The left hemisphere waits

as the inferior alveolar nerve falls asleep.

The right cries !papa!

which reverberates in the interior keep

where the sealed child cannot sleep.
Dawn McGuire has four published collections, including The Aphasia Café, winner of the 2013 Indie Book Award for Poetry. Her latest book, American Dream with Exit Wound (2017), is a Small Press Distribution best seller. She was raised in Appalachian Eastern KY, and is on the faculty of Morehouse School of Medicine.