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My tooth fell out. An upper left bicuspid. I knew I should’ve found a dentist before something like this happened.

“Just pull it out,” your sister said. I explained that it would be cheaper to save the original tooth than put in a false one, as I tried to remember if you were supposed to put the lost ones in water or milk to preserve them, and how long you could keep them there. The sister, an opera singer, didn’t understand: she’d just gotten a hundred-million-dollar contract to do something scientific.

You, her brother, were suddenly also granted to do some three-initial biology I’d never heard of. You were both on the news.

Today my hair’s too short and it makes me want to cry. Reactionary haircuts are never a good idea, even if they feel that way at the time.

In the gossip pages the other day, I found a rumor that a former friend, now a filmmaker, had married the son of someone famous for something actual. The alleged bride’s father, I learned, years ago had delivered a child star.

This is how we became former: My friend and I had lunch once soon after I moved to New York. I’d seen her here once—after she moved back, before I moved out—and it was fine: she still had a funny nose and lanky red hair and a quick wit and a nice apartment in the Village—which her parents, smart and with two daughters, had held onto when they decamped to the suburbs—where we sat and tried to be unstartled by the lightning flashing all around us. As I remember, we did a pretty good job. The next time I saw her—years later, after I’d moved to the city—she was slightly zaftig with big blond hair; harried, unfunny down to her nose. We never got in touch again. I got the sense—common here, I’ve had it myself enough times—that she thought I wanted something from her. For the record, I did not. The next time I got a new cell phone, I didn’t transfer her numbers.

While I was sleeping, I tried on a two-piece dress with a sheer black slip and a rainbow-striped overshift—not unlike, I now realize, that faux Arabian Nights bedding one finds everywhere these days. It was, frustratingly, too small. The sign explaining the sale tags bordered on the cabalistic. At the time, I was dating two black men, both science types and at least one of them perilously young. He was, I believe, a freshman at my alma mater, where I had returned to seriously study two things I cannot now recall. This could easily be a theme: things that were once of utmost importance but are now lost to memory.

Outside it’s trying harder to rain than it has in days, which is saying something. I am more and more certain that I’ve lost my umbrella, even though I can’t remember when I last used it, or where I might have left it, which means, most likely, that it must be around here somewhere.

It’s dim, cool, gray, secret. The part of spring before the flowers come up. Buds, eggs.  We know something is coming—we even know what it is; it’s the same every year—but we seem braced for a surprise, as if this year will somehow be different. This is both metaphor and plain speaking. It makes me want to go to a movie, to see someone else’s vision for a while. What’s the problem, anyway? And will I remember later? Will I always? And what’s with all the honking and clapping? It’s late in the morning, why aren’t you kids in school?

The dentist gave me a tooth-shaped plastic case to put my bicuspid in—just another instance of false perfection covering up what’s real.




page six

magdalen powers