Baby Teeth

by Emma Sheinbaum


Baby teeth grow

through gums only


to fall out, to make room for

more permanent things, but I


only want good things

to be permanent things. I


never let mine go, I would

make them stay, even if


only by a thread of tissue. I

lost my first tooth in first


grade, in a cupcake, and it

was by accident. Mommy


pulled the rest out, and I

made her use numbing cream


so I wouldn’t have to feel it,

even though they were already


detached, just a little hollow tombstone,

a baby tooth shell ready to be shattered


by the permanent tooth forcing

its way in. My first front tooth


was completely grown in while

its baby placeholder was still hanging


on by a single string of root. I stopped

eating in case it fell out, I could feel it


tapping against the permanent

tooth behind it every time I breathed


in and Mommy said it was disgusting, but

that didn’t make it any less scary to let it


disconnect from my mouth. “It’s

just there, it’s already


gone, it’s just there,” she

said until she couldn’t take


looking at me anymore, until

I could barely even hold onto


it anymore; she plucked it, its root

snapped like a guitar string, I heard


it hum but couldn’t feel it even

though Mommy refused


to use the numbing cream—“There

is nothing to numb.

See? It’s already dead.”