POETRY February 5, 2021

Two Poems

Splitting the Cracks

I want to call its flaked limbs dead—
the tree outside that knocks
against the fogged glass. Knuckles
drier than bone, easier to snap.

I want to snap your bones
while we lie in bed, make two
out of one, so you can bend
in new ways. I want to give you

more bones, unmerge the merged, 
a chance to begin again. We can 
make flour out of anything
if we grind it down. Bone flour,

bark flour. The reaching tree 
outside survives tall, protesting 
its barrenness. In this bed I’m bare, 
stripped down, wintered raw,

my touch cold as the pane 
against the branch’s caress. 
You hold out my hand, expose 
each finger, slip yours through

my cracks, and when I think to ask 
if the morning makes your bones heavy, 
makes them creak like dry wood 
under work boots, you tell me it’s time

for breakfast, let’s make pancakes, let’s 
stay in. I roll back my palm, say I’ll make 
the batter. I taste your teeth 
from your kiss, your bones

in my mouth. Pancake made of bone. Pancake 
tasting like kisses. Eating pancakes of you, with 
you, toothless. The wind shoves the hard 
crown of the tree and it pounds down

this time, no longer asking 
but begging: Let me in. I turn my back 
but you, you reach 
over me, you crack the pane.

Wedding Vows First Draft

I sent my wisdom teeth in the mail 
labeled from the tooth fairy
but my friends received empty envelopes
with holes punched through. I have since learned

it is illegal to mail body tissue 
through USPS. I think about those teeth,
the one shaped like a dancer 
with its molar roots tilted sideways

like little ballet legs, the one that crumbled 
into three, each part bloody
and rotten. Who holds them tonight? 
Lying in the surgeon’s chair

I sobbed over Imagine playing 
through the speakers. It’s a lie,
I said. I understand that I was high
but I still can’t shake the feeling

of my pain ignored. When the surgeon
said it’s over I asked for my teeth back
and he gawked at me like I was the first 
to request a return. Has he previously

thrown them all out in some waste bin 
labeled toxic? I saved one tooth for years
until parting with it today as a gift 
to the one I love. I like that he holds

what could be my remains. My last 
wisdom tooth, the nicest one, its softness
somewhere between pearl and diamond,
and more rare than both. I wrapped it

in a plastic tooth-shaped tooth-coffin 
that I’ve saved with the treasure-spirit 
of an old woman who stows away
a family heirloom for that wistful

one day. Is romance to be found
in dentistry? Is love a form of letting
go? All I know is myself, I think
as I take his hand.

Claire Denson reads for The Adroit Journal and holds a BA from University of Michigan and an MFA from UNCG, where she served as Editorial Intern for The Greensboro Review. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Massachusetts Review, Sporklet, Whale Road Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and Hobart, among others. You can find her at clairedenson.com.