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.