“You can’t catch me”,
and much more.

It’s winter,
an early morning
Saturday
in NYC.

We are down stairs
playing Tag
in the new snow,
that fell last night.

He shouts
“You can’t catch me”
and is running fast
to the safe spot.

Determined
to tag him,
I close my eyes
in a burst of speed

run face first
into the tree
that appears
out of nowhere.

It slams me
onto my back.
I lay there
looking at the sky.

They gather around,
help me to my feet.
She points and says,
“Look, his tooth is gone”.

I feel with my tongue.
A front tooth
has broken off
diagonally.

On hands and knees
we search for it
in the smushed snow.
He holds it up. “Here it is.”

He gives it to me.
A triangle of tooth.
We stand there
cold, wet and scared.

We make up
a story
they will believe,
to escape punishment.

In the elevator
someone presses 13
and we head up,
ready to role play.

We enter our apartment, 13E.
I head to the back hall
and scream out loud,
after falling down.

Ma appears and pulls the cord
that turns on the bare hall bulb.
Crying, I get up, holding my mouth.
“I fell down. I’m sorry.”

I bend to recover
the bit of tooth,
holding it between two fingers.
“Not again”, she says.

The summer before
while roller skating,
I turned to look at Donna J.
as she strolled past,

and ran smack dab into,
and over the top
of the park bench,
that appeared in my way.

That is how I broke
the other front tooth off,
at the opposite
diagonal angle.

Ma says,
“You are so clumsy.
Can’t you see
where you are going”?

For many years after that
I didn’t ‘open mouth’
to laugh or smile.
Look at the photographs.

Isn’t it odd,
that an instant event
may have a lifetime
of consequences?

I did get my teeth fixed.

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