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  You could have a big dipper   

Oil Change by Madison Gill

The ache in my tooth is a dull reminder

of how long it’s been since I’ve seen a dentist –

and how much longer than that it’s been

since you have. They don’t tell you this part

in the movies – how real love is worrying

about each other’s oral health.

I read in a headline on Facebook about how death

sneaks in through the gums and now every time

you yawn, I examine your exposed molars.

As if I, an amateur, would recognize decay

by a glance. I feel time passing us by – the wrinkles

in mine and your face deepening. I take my car

in for an oil change and the mechanic

comes back with 450 dollars worth of atrophy

happening silently beneath the hood.

And I wonder about mine and your bodies –

which parts might be misfiring

without a single outward sign.

I am terrified to grow old.

And at the same time desperate to live

for as long as possible alongside you.

I press my ear to your chest and want to be comforted

by your revving RPM heartbeat and not fixate

on how delicate and intricate the dance of cells –

one misstep from cancerous destiny.

I don’t know anymore if I’d rather just not wake up

from a surgery one day or have my heart stop beating

in the middle of the kitchen. If it’s mercy

to be taken out early in a fiery crash or freak

backcountry skiing accident than to be alive

as your organic machinery breaks down. Slowly.

First a few loose screws before total organ failure.

The movies didn’t prepare me for this part –

how love would shatter the shield between me and mortality.

How much more mileage the actual heart can take than the physical.

How often I wonder which one of us will die

first. And hoping, pleading, praying it’s me.


Madison Gill (she/her) is a poet from western Colorado. An alumni of Colorado State University-Pueblo, her work has appeared previously in various print and online publications. She has also performed and placed in literary conferences at local universities. She is currently building a tiny house in the mountains.

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