Draw a line between two teeth.
Test each gum—remind it with
what force it needs to meet the string
and, knowing, it will keep its strength.
Each tooth, too, is glad to feel
this brief dividing: care for one
small part’s a small but crucial sign
of care for all. Makes possible
an opening in thought, where time
slips, and what might be set aside
can set a spell. All else will come,
will press its dross onto the mind.
So stay, and floss. Let remembering
be the waxy string, the line it draws.
Anna Lena Phillips Bell
Anna Lena Phillips Bell is the author of Ornament, winner of the Vassar Miller Poetry Prize. Her writing appears or is forthcoming in the Southern Review, 32 Poems, and Quarterly West. Her artist’s books and broadsides, including the poetry guide A Pocket Book of Forms, have appeared in exhibitions at Asheville Bookworks and Abecedarian Gallery. She is the recipient of grants and scholarships from the North Carolina Arts Council, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and UNC Wilmington’s Center for Teaching Excellence. She teaches at UNCW, where she is editor of Ecotone and Lookout Books, and calls Appalachian square dances in North Carolina and beyond. More about her work is here.