Don’t cry,
or your nose will get stuffed up
and you can’t breathe.

Don’t cry
Don’t cry
Don’t cry

A bevy of birds fly up,
a slender African beauty
glances up from her grassland mudhole,
a single lioness stalks,
and then the chase,
slow motion legs,
soothing music calming.
Is that a church song?

I grip the arms of the chair,
feeling myself breathe.
Have I forgotten to breathe?
Don’t cry.
I close my eyes as the lioness
reaches out her paw,
claws splayed,
tail in equilibrium,
and in a dream-like state,
as she leaps,
I remember working that tooth,
back and forth,
savoring the pain,
blood on tongue tip,
and I cry,
a welling beast taking over me,
nose filling with snot,
I remember every one of them,
the miracle of hard bone breaking
through child soft flesh.

There is no tooth fairy, after all,
just me on a grassy plain,
gold rippling on Savage pelt,
and blood,
and sun.

She comes in with mask and gloves.
“Are you ready?” she asks.

“No,” I say, and laugh shakily,
“I mean, Yes.”