Photo of a person sitting alone by a lake.

Toothache

Content warning: grief and mental illness.

Then, my mouth ached from smiling
Now, the pain comes from somewhere else
The curve of my grin inverted
Into an ironic reflection of those days
When we laughed ourselves out of breath
But could still breathe easier, knowing
The future was full of stories we would
One day reminisce about, as old women
Looking back with tenderness on a timeline
That stretched out seamlessly
With no beginning or end, because
Life made no sense, without the other in it.

Only I age alone, retracing our steps in search
Of the moment when it all went wrong
I know if I could just pinpoint it, touch it,
Then I could grab the stitches of the tearing fabric
And hold the seams of everything together
Like standing at the centre of a tug of war 
Wanting desperately to suspend the movement
Though the axe must swing, one way or another.

I could let go of the rope, let it happen, let it be
But instead I keep prodding this particular wound
Like touching your tongue to the sore in your mouth
Just to find out exactly where it hurts
To feel the jagged, crenellated edges
The cracks I imagine overlaying the photo of you and I
Smiling years ago with pearl-bright, flashing teeth.

(And that’s on broken friendships.)

Image Credit: Aleksandr Neplokhov via Pexels.