by Nathan Gunter

Today, the dentist pulled
the last of your
natural teeth and
replaced them with
false ones.

Tomorrow, you will turn eighty-three.

I wonder how
much of us
is left —
really still there —
at the end.

I wonder how
many chances we
really get.

Is the shelf life
of the pieces
of which we’re assembled
written in our nuclei?
Does maintenance matter?

Are we too scarred
as we depart third
to run toward home
to ever really get there?
Does everything we left behind
have to come with us?
Will it meet us there?
Or was it always weighing us down?

Is what finally arrives
toothless and silver
the refined form
or the deformed frame
even to the angels?

At least you’ll be able
to eat corn on the cob again.
You can come visit,
we can grill them in foil,
sit on the back porch
and watch the kids
chase lightning bugs
in the yard.

Nathan Gunter is the editor-in-chief of Oklahoma Today magazine and the managing editor of the online poetry salon vox poetica. His poetry, fiction, essays, and journalism have appeared in the Times of London, This Land Press, the 2017 Woody Guthrie Poets anthology Ain’t Gonna Be Treated This Way, in two anthologies of the Bridgewater International Poetry Festival, and at, among others. He lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.