2-1 Fissure



Every autumn grandpa hunted bobwhite.

At dinner, he always warned “Bite slowly”

but at 9 years old, holster

and cap gun strapped to my hip,

chipmunk-cheeked with mashed potatoes and biscuits,

gravy odor filling my nose, I chomped into the spicy meat


in rapture—eyes closed—


I bit on a birdshot, chipping

and cracking an incisor down the middle.

My tongue found it, spit it out

on Great-grandma’s Royal Albert china plate.

It rolled up the edge and back to rest by a pea.

Gramps shook his head.


I let out a cry a neighbor declared

she heard half a mile away.


Fifty years later

my tongue still probes its worn cleft,

that metallic aftertaste

tainting every buttered biscuit,


birdshot embedded in every bite.


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  1. I can relate…My Dad brought home dove to eat and I occasionally bit down on buckshot. Never broke a tooth though!

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