Smile

Like jelly-filled buttermints in a bowl
at the cash register, my father’s smile bursts with black
licorice, teeth crumbling, open and intimating truths
of his body. One lit with sweet lemon,
gold-rimmed proof that, at one time, there had been money
for an emergency repair. When he last visited
for Thanksgiving, he lost his toothbrush
on the bus. He bought an Oral-B, but to smell
his breath as it fills the cab of the truck,
when he pulls me into an uncomfortable hug, arms
full of missing, I know it is too late
for preventative medicine. His is a smile
Of sandstone, eroded by years,
by the streaming pressure of sad
words built up upon his tongue.

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