Susan Terris  


Sometime in childhood you begin to hear it, 
know her teeth are starting to chip, 
discolor as fillings 
and crowns pulp food. Her swallows 
are intolerable, intake of breath, 
the touch of her hand. 
Still, shrinking from toothmarks 
or fingerprints, you 
consider texture and taste, covet them. 

Grasshopper, caterpillar, cricket chew 
and keep chewing. 
Children keep them in jars, 
listen at night before all chewing grates 
and touch hints of mortality. 
Children, though alert to decay, 
choose to pretend 
their glass-walled caterpillars are 
not chewing patiently toward oblivion. 

Across great distances, countless mouths 
chew. Mother's, too, 
as she reaches and strains 
to touch me again. "Tell me", I call into 
space, "what you know about 
flavor and rapture." Her mouth opens, 
but instead of sound, butterflies arc. 
Instead of ordinary touch, 
I feel a dusting of pollen on my hand. 

Copyright 1996, Susan Terris 

Susan Terris has published several books of poetry: Curved Space (1998, La Jolla Poets Press), Eye of the Holocaust (1999, Arctos Press), and Angels of Bataan (1999, Pudding House Publications).  Ms. Terris's  poetry has been published in many magazines, both print and on-line. "The Sound of Your Mother Chewing" first appeared in Painted Bride Quarterly

Switched-on Gutenberg/Vol. 4, No. 2 
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