I know this drill—
novocaine’s sting, the smell of burnt
tooth, hands cradling my head
into position, the numb recognition
of fingers exploring my warm, wet
mucosa. Over the years a thousand
patients have said that seeing me
is just like going to the dentist.
But I believe I’m tougher to take.
With me there is no anesthesia
or high-tech glue. No one leaves
my office with a gold crown
even if they yearn to be a prince.
The pills I prescribe don’t fill cavities
in anyone’s soul, and my bond
with patients is created from nothing
more substantial than empathy.
And I remind the few who love me
too much, that our first handshake
is the only time our flesh will touch,
no matter how great their hurt,
no matter how long it takes to heal.