Braces

When you had braces
and couldn't kiss for toffee
or eat it
and your face was so thin
I could feel the skull
under there 
all holes;
skin
like the skin of a drum
pulled tight over bone,
the slow movement of your jaw
the steady chew of it
the horse and straw of it 
was a small wonder to me then;
and steel and stone rested 
on row upon row of pearly whites.

I pretended not to notice the bands
at the sides  
the rubber holding us together 
a cat's cradle
in your mouth
the kiss itself 
in danger of being caught
first one side, then the other.
Or somewhere else.
When I laughed
my throat biscuit-dry 
my mouth thigh-wide
your eyes held mine, 
smile faded to a line;
straight and strong.
My own teeth, tombstones 
wedged single file
in my pretty pink gums.



					
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