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04.22.05, Friday afternoon

Although the woman scrapped and dug tenaciously around gums vacant of anesthesia due to my dental student's distaste for numbing a body to its sensitivity to pain and pleasure and taste, I did not mind the discomfort. Instead, I did what anyone must do whilst sitting in a chair amidst tiny sharp metal tools, the buzz of unseen mysterious machines, the yelping of patients--doze, look, compose nonsense, remember, mull over the vagaries of history...

The dental instructor was pretty, Asian, Columbia-educated, surprisingly young. We were almost nose to nose as she prodded my gums. Close enough to see the brownness of her dark eyes. The closest I've been to a strange woman in a long time. What a very pretty girl! she exclaimed before launching into a discussion re: the pleasure derived from using this tiny sharp metal instrument vs. that tiny sharp metal instrument. I explored her face, or what I could see around the paper mask. Her skin: soft, unscarred, not yet line-worried. Her eyes could be compared to nuts, but I am not the sort of writer to compare eyes to nuts. I liked her earlobes best, adorned with tiny pearls and curling inward.

. . .

Last night we biked from West Oakland to Berkeley and back: white horse heads mounted along a black wrought-iron gate; a white rocking horse glowing in the window of an antique shop that had gone out of business; a mural of marshland, Ohlone villages, hummingbirds the size of dog-headed priests or gods; giggling in a tiny park (he with Singha, myself with a double chocolate stout) while the train sang underneath; dodging the shadows (real, imagined) as we followed the near-full moon home.


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