Wooden Teeth

We cut wooden teeth for an unsightly
cringe along the skin. Plants emit

volatile chemical cues, carried in blood
streams to other parts. Easily confused

for excitement, hormones control growth
factors, trigger and regulate how far we go.

And the gardener trims at the top
(for flowers or for fruit), but what’s the value

in that? They ask, not wanting to see. The sense
in which we are like trees, like inkblots, filthy

sepia—nostalgic feeling in the dirt
for sweeter times. Endangered while

reproducing, compounds mate in
certain ways, natural protective actions

confront predators in pomegranates,
free radicals in apples. We don’t know

what’s safe or harmful anymore.
When you meet me with your back up

the surface of this city is no longer a network.
We become organically blind teethy buildings

amid buildings programmed to be made of teeth.
Gapped, broken, bridged—everything’s braced.

Cassandra Rockwood-Rice self-publishes a small art and literary zine called Rag. She works for an arts non-profit and lives in California with her wonderful daughter and three brilliant cats. She is an award-winning poet with writing published in several national reviews and journals, including New Delta Review and Rip Rap. She has a poem forthcoming in Hawai’i Review. Cassandra holds a BA from California Institute of Integral Studies and an MFA in writing from California College of the Arts. She loves to travel and take on new artistic projects. She is interested in ecology, borders, identity, diasporas, and confession.

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