Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Just in time for Valentine’s Day, I bought a box of conversation hearts. You know, the hard pastel candies stamped with blurry all-caps messages like BEAR HUG, CLOUD NINE, THAT SMILE and U R A STAR. Their sweetness offset by the weirdness of some of the sayings: WISE UP, TIME OUT, YEAH RIGHT and AS IF.

The one I popped in my mouth yesterday – pale yellow like watery egg yolk – must have said FUDGE U, though I didn’t look until it was too late. I bit into it and felt (or heard) a grinding crunch like I’d chomped on a pebble.

I dribbled the bits straight into the trash, bright gold now with spit, and realized that something had gone badly wrong. That inquisitive muscle – my tongue – grazed along what should have been the comforting curve of a molar and instead scraped against a sharp sheer cliff. A hand held mirror confirmed that tooth #19 was missing most of its crown.

No pain. Number 19 had undergone a root canal years before and was blissfully nonreactive to what had taken place. But still. I picked through the trash to find the little porcelain bits I’d just spat out. Yuck.

No missing tooth/death dreams. But my tongue ran – automatically, beseechingly, soothingly – over the broken surface all night. Upon waking to pee at 3 a.m. I thought how funny we humans are, comprised of bone and stone, our flesh just borrowed, our light only temporary. I’m thrown off by the loss of a chunkette of porcelain, nothing permanent or irreplaceable. What if I’d lived 200 years ago and my whole jaw was rotting out?

“A conversation heart did it,” I told Dr. Jacobs as I slid into the chair this morning.

He said it was probably fractured earlier and that “a marshmallow could have done it.”

Whatever.  No more $1,200 pieces of candy for me.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Urban Inspiration

On Spreckels Lake

It’s the less pretty lake in Golden Gate Park
The one where the Russians play chess
Where the old Chinese ladies play Mahjong
All conveniently near my address

The pigeons are crumping and preening
The water unnatural green
Murky and dirty, three feet or thirty
The color of Listerine

The weather’s been rainy and moody
But the clouds have lifted today
Sun working its magic, alighting the granite
On the path where the wild geese hold sway

I walk round the sparkling raceway
Two teenagers poised for a kiss
Their faces earnest and watchful
So close to experiencing bliss

Brown turtles arrayed in a pyramid
Atop the one rock in the pond
Some pushing and tumbling, and surely some grumbling
Unaware of the great world beyond

Two captains embrace on the lakeshore
One’s sail has got caught on one’s flag
They’re discussing which rudder to swivel
Which remote switch can undo the snag

It’s a weekday and just about lunchtime
And time to go home for some cake
But oh what a glorious sojourn
‘Round the pavement of Spreckels Lake