TRADED TEETH

Originally published in Velvet Tail

 

Last lifetime, we sat at the river
and traded teeth, as children.
That was the third time I met you,
the first in the day light
and not the last at the edge of a river.

Tonight, I have lost count of the lifetimes
I have you graze your fingers over my ankles,
my feet propped on the rungs of your bar stool.

I pay the bartender for your beer with
teeth and you remember the first time
your hands shook in the dark.
We leave that bar for the eighth time
to find a river, or a clear shot
of the moon, because you like when my limbs
are wet and well-lit.

Because everything I write about you
comes back to the first handful of teeth
you gave me, even when we’re not
in the same lifetime.

Because in every bar, you know it’s me
when I tuck my shoes between you and your seat,
a knowing pressed so tightly between the layers
of these lives.

Because I always go looking for your teeth,
your mouth, to try to convince me the river’s edge
means more than the mud.

Because there is meaning in these people
we are each time, pockets full of teeth
that I wouldn’t trade with anyone
but you.