Tongue-Tied by Brett Belcastro

I ate ice cream in cups on account
of a tongue too short
not sickly or any less lumpen than they come
but sewn into the mouth
as by threads too tight, holding its reach
with taut cords beneath
the lower incisors and among that slick realm
of bumps and pink glands we only see
in dentists’ mirrors.

I could hardly speak for fear of
exerting and tearing that slopping red organ,

deprived popsicles, waffle cones, sweet pops
and even so far as corn dogs
I lost the words and with them the thoughts
of the mouth-world so that
eating itself occurred in another tongue,
another place, and I could not understand.

Unable to say it, losing thought of each
thing to eat I lost thinking too,
living without thought, but worst of all
I still spoke, and sounded louder
and smarter than ever, they moved me
up to the fifth grade with swollen gums

soon enough the old organ-member grew more
and too red, grown with the excess
brain juice and blood no longer carrying
oxygenated thought—these were the
doctors’ words—and the pediatrician
begins talking of lasers, glaring harsh machines
to heat and melt away the thick cords
binding tongue-to-jaw
“But no,” he says, “and” in a single sweep
of a practiced pediatric arm

(here I am on the table,
legs dangling, throat droning like a monk,
staring into the lamp above and my mouth open
about twelve whole inches)

an unseen blade flashes under the tongue.

My mouth is full of so much blood
and words that I can keep neither—
I give freely all over the pediatric floor
thinking, thinking again to thank them

“Thanks”

so full of joy, tongue spilling like

“Thanks,”

and the whole time wondering
if it were not better not to think
as my shirt stained red with blood
and the joy of popsicle juice

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