Someone once told me that

if you dream your teeth

are falling out,

it means you’re dying.


It happened in a breast cancer

support group. Nancy said she

dreamed her teeth came out

in four great clumps,

and two weeks later,

she was dead.


Grandpa only dreamed

his false ones fell out,

but when he woke,

he couldn’t find them.

He walked around the

house for a week

looking like a mummy,

sipping from straws.


The sign in Dr. Wong’s waiting room said,

You don’t need to floss all of your teeth—

only the ones you want to keep.

That was fifty years ago, and I still have

them. But when I broke my lower incisor

on a crust of rustic bread

in a trattoria near Campo de’ Fiori,

I swear to God

the Angel of Death sped

by in his Vespa, whining

down Via della Corda.



by Abby Caplin


Abby Caplin’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Adanna, Forge, The Healing Muse, Night Train, OxMag, The Permanente Journal, Poetica, Tikkun, Willow Review, and several anthologies. She is a physician and practices Mind-Body medicine in San Francisco.

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