Oscar Wilde’s Teeth

The tooth had to come out. Every surgeon he consulted said so. An infection had dissolved the bone around tooth number 13. He would get an electric shock of sorts when he ate or drank. Even talking could trigger a jolt of pain. And yet he couldn’t resist the urge to wiggle the tooth with his tongue. After surgery, he was left with an embarrassing gap where the tooth had been and would often speak with his hand in front of his mouth. Only very rarely would he smile. He was like a book of jokes and riddles whose pages were stuck together.

Howie Good is the author of more than a dozen poetry collections, including most recently Gunmetal Sky (Thirty West Publishing) and The Bad News First (Kung Fu Treachery Press).

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