Grams always liked to scare me,
to see if she could get me to laugh.
She would bare her gummy cavity
that resembled a witch’s mouth.
Sometimes she’d pop her fake teeth out
into her hand and shove them in my face.
Even these fake teeth were yellowed
and chipped, plaque filling any gaps.
I’d shriek in disgust but then choke on
relentless laughter. Her lips always
seemed too big for her mouth when she’d
joke like this, and they would smack
between every lisping syllable.
Her passing has left me bereft, looking for
someone to take her place. I find solace
in the nursing home where there are an
endless number of people with false teeth
available to startle me.
But sometimes I wish that they would
put their teeth back in so I can stop making
paltry copies of my Grams among these toothless
people, with altered speech and shrunken faces.
The teeth at the nursing home are in all
shapes and sizes. They soak in Efferdent
after meals, with yesterday’s lunch floating
in the sudsy cleaning solution. Some teeth are
rotten, decaying, while others are all in a row, white.
I try to hold back a laugh when they don’t fit well—
they hop up and down in the mouth,
almost as if they cannot stand to stay.