When the hygienist reclines me, I feel important
ffffffffffffuntil the mini-light tilts
into my eyes. Only a minute, she says about the surgeon
fffffffffffand anesthesia. My tooth doesn’t hurt now but
has for months—left-side wisdom I kept
ffffffffffffffffpressing into its socket like it’d work
again. In the doorway, the surgeon calls my name.
ffffffffHis slicked-back hair wouldn’t budge in a coastline
convertible ride, blue eyes like almost
ffffffffffffffffevery white crush I’ve had. Where are you from?
he sits and asks. Maryland, I say, getting ready
fffffffffor the needle. No, I mean—like I’ve misunderstood
him—where’s your family from? I say Hong Kong
ffffffffbecause I’m not quick or brave enough. Because
I live in the most liberal town in Indiana. For this I should
ffffffffbe grateful, as if racism can’t touch me
here, wouldn’t dare come near a We Welcome All
ffffffffffffffffplacard or bumpersticker that says Coexist.
The hygienist asks, Have you seen all the Chinese
ffffffffinternational students on campus? With their very
expensive cars? I remember I’ve paid for this posture
ffffffffffffffffof examination, for a needle and someone to lift
my pain. I don’t know what to do with the fact
ffffffffof my money or the body I’ve laid on this cushioned
chair. My son is Korean, the surgeon says, leaning towards
ffffffffffffffffme with the needle. Hold tight, he says, it’ll pinch.