First Tooth

by nicolecallihan

For weeks, Ella, I have been absently fingering your gums, feeling for the inevitable, and so it shouldn’t have surprised me this morning when I reached my thumb in and felt the sharp of your first tooth. On Sunday, after playing outside, your sister came in and handed me an acorn so flawless it seemed more like a piece of art called “acorn” than a real acorn. It is tooth-hard and perfect brown, and I can’t for the life of me imagine how an animal might squirrel itself in to get at its meat. Now, it rains, and you sleep, and I think of all the foods you’ll touch with that one perfect tooth: of the avocado I gave you around lunchtime and the bananas I’ll feed you in the morning, of the Cheerios that will come and the peas and the candy. In graduate school, I had a friend who seemed always to dream of losing her teeth, and she recounted those dreams as we walked the city streets: she had coughed, she said, and when she looked into her palm, it was filled with teeth. In Chinese culture it is sometimes said that you lose a tooth for every lie you tell. Maybe now, sweet girl, with the thunder, I am wondering if you have given me some truth with this one new tooth. In just a few days, I return to work; already I ache for you.

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