Kayleigh Padar

baby teeth

My grandma kept my

baby tooth

tucked in the kitchen cabinet,

among all of the messages

I left on her answering machine,

amid the hours sprawled on her carpet

arranging matchbox cars into

four way stops,

settled in a pile of crusts

cut from ham sandwiches.


My best friend clutched my

baby tooth

in her soft palm as she

outstretched her pinkie in

a promise

that she would always jump

off the jungle gym first and

reach her arms for me,

that she would always curl

my ribbon with the scissors

for our art projects,

that when she finally found

the Loch Ness monster,

I’d be the first to know.


The woman down the block

buried one in her backyard.

The place I snuck to pet

her dog when my house

felt loud.

My first grade teacher

stashed one in the word searches

I never sat still long enough

to solve.


My grownup teeth tore

through soft, baby gums

and left me to

protect one

amongst piles of

overexposed photos

enveloped in flakes of dust.