I Wish I Were an Animal That Was Unaware

Every morning, I wake up filled with dread,
secure in the knowledge that my teeth
are going to fall out, my jawbones eroding,
dementia sliding into my head, my heart,
because I hide from needles, from expense,
from the shame of If only you came to see me
six months ago, a year, or five, or even ten.
I wish I were an animal that was unaware
of death and decay, decline and its prevention
or, at least, delay. There are no dentists for
river otters, say — I would tuck my head,
paddle in the shale, and no one would say
I should have known better; if only I had.


Prompts: NaPoWriMo (a line that you’re afraid to write — or in my poem’s case, those first four lines), Poetic Asides (hiding out), and Imaginary Garden with Real Toads (the natural world).


18 thoughts on “I Wish I Were an Animal That Was Unaware

  1. I so relate to this. I hate dentists – but I am the opposite of you. I BEG for needles, even for cleaning, LOL…………nice to be a river otter – no dental bills either. Could never be a beaver though. my teeth couldnt handle it. Smiles.

    • Thanks, Sherry! The needle thing has grown over the years to become a more general doctor thing — and a dentist thing, which I didn’t have before. As you get older, the stakes seem to get higher, as does the likelihood that they’ll have to “do things” to you/for you. Maybe I’ll just get some beaver teeth and call it a day. 🙂

  2. Rosemary Nissen-Wade says:

    That’s brave all right, to admit to this. I assume you live in USA where expense is indeed a daunting factor. That fear of finding out can be huge for many people, too. Or is it perhaps a matter of principle to avoid things like drugs and vaccines if possible? I wonder if you might seek to learn some method of complementary healing. Some of those might prove costly too, if you need supplies, such as for naturopathic treatments. What about some form of energy healing? Personally I swear by Reiki, but Kinesiology and Pranic Healing are other good possibilities. I am thinking, something you could learn to do for yourself (and if need be, for others).

    Apart from which – a very well worded poem.

    • Thank you! And no, it’s not principle on my part. 🙂 It’s a phobia of needles coupled with the awareness that I’ve neglected my teeth and gums for far too long as a result, and now anything I would have done would certainly be painful and expensive — despite “good” insurance.

  3. I read a fringy philosopher once say that humankind evolved so the big green dragon of the universe would have a way of looking at itself. Wondrous, yes, but a terrifying job too, since the looker looks both ways … Anxiety is the cost of awareness, and knowledge is terrifying — Yaysus, am I really sitting on this limb a hundred feet above the ground — doctoring in the animal world means tuck your head and swim on. This has a nice tight rhythm to the reflections, nice use of internal rhyme too to help work the needle in and out of the fabric, and the last line finishes off the though showing what a trap our thoughts are, both outward and in.

  4. This is a very honest and painful piece. A lot of us take good health for granted until it’s no longer the case. The small bits of helpful maintenance we know we ought to do get lost in life’s busy pace. I’ve only just started trying to be more proactive in dealing with the little aches and pains before they become big ones.

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