Root Canal

The root canal—was something
my life was revolving around
for the last 24 hours.

My dentist, a reliable mouth-focused,
moon-faced congenial Chinese
was good with his hands.
Always accepted the insurance.

But even he gave up on me,
complaining on the tortuosity
of my canal, and referred me
to a super specialist—the root-canal man,
board certified endodontist.

How the hell the rest of the world,
that is most of the world:
Rwanda, Cambodia, Kazakhstan,
even Latvia and Spain,
managed to bypass the root canal issue—
they live and die without endodontists.
It’s a mystery!

My suspicion about
absolute relativity of root canal concept
precipitated as I was waiting
(half of my head with all its contents
going numb) in the plastic and glass
sterile mouth-friendly compound, where spit
is softly sucked in
by the special soundless sewage system.

The pictures in U.S. News . . . and
in Newsweek in the waiting room
expressed total indifference
of the world toward the root canal issue:
piles of teenage bodies in fatigues,
choppers, oriental bazaar, California
highway with the warning road sign—
human silhouettes, running across,
right next to Cindy Crawford’s compound nevus.

Dr. Pertchik was a little man with a gray braid,
massive golden chain necklace and hairy forearms.
He announced his rate with ingratiating whisper
drilled in and pulled—he’s got the nerve!

On the way back, when the job was done,
anesthesia wearing down, I felt a bit drowsy
and more receptive to the perks
of civilization and to little Pertchik himself.

As I was putting my VISA
back into the wallet and was about to leave
I found out that his grandmother
was from the same town as mine—
Lodz in Poland and that she died
of the typhoid fever in Auschwitz
long before Dr. Pertchik was born.

He was a born endodontist,
focused and thorough,
that’s all he did, except golfing.
He plumbed me well and now
being conceptually free
from the humiliating dependency
on the root canal
I was speeding away
ready for the crown!

Confrontation, 4/30/04

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