Amy Lerman, “The Dental Office”

Amy Lerman is a residential faculty member in the English department at Mesa Community College, and when she is not teaching (or writing or submitting), she enjoys running, traveling, and hanging with her husband, cats, and family. Her poems have appeared and/or are forthcoming in Slippery Elm, Ember Chasm, Rattle, and Smartish Pace, among other publications.

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The Dental Office

Today’s feature in The Stafford Courier is about the culvert
repair on Highway 281, just outside of Seward. I know this

because the two men in the waiting room, one wearing a seed
hat and overalls, the other in a western shirt and jeans, read

sections aloud. Every so often I smile over at them. We are
sharing this time together, after all, and I imagine their lives,

routines, thinking they might enjoy being indoors this June
Wednesday instead of out in the field. I want to comment

on today’s wind or ask if they had much rain with last night’s
storm—this is Kansas, where weather promises constant

conversation—yet I hesitate, presume that this, despite
the backgrounding Christian rock and muffled drill noises

from the back, might be the quiet and calm of their day, no hot
wind whipping the shelterbelt junipers, no alfalfa baler yawps,

no voices yelling about irrigation levels across the shaggy hay
rows. Even when the tornado sirens sound at noon, no one

speaks or moves, this being the first of the month at noon
and test day, so I return to my novel, listen for when their friend

thanks the assistant for her fresh toothbrush and mini paste, only
too pleased when, on their way out, the overalled man, taps

my left shoulder, says, “It’s all up to you now,” and we laugh, my eyes
following through the office window, as they exit in haloed sunlight.





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