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Eating Wordsby Tamara Kaye Sellman
The skull smiles, even as fleshly lips sag and tears trickle from eyes soft in their beds. It is harder to see behind the skin, to see—or perhaps better to hear—the jawbones grinding like tectonic plates, molars hungry for tension to teethe upon, for something resilient, salty, endless. Most words cannot be consumed and swallowed by the back teeth, for the brain is either asleep or daydreaming and, in either case, doesn’t pay proper attention. It is from this recklessness that words often pass through the gorge of the soft palate without ever touching the walls of the throat’s dark cave. Once delivered to the front of the mouth, they are carved by the knives of incisors and bicuspids, then polished to a high luster by the tongue before escaping the cranial chamber. How the molars starve, then, discontent with a diet of flavorless salivary shadows! Pressed, top to bottom, they poise for the moment when the seizure of nonrefundable words becomes a concern for the heart, the sometimes keeper of the brain. In that event, the silent synapses are urged to tap out emergency telegrams, which in turn dispatch adrenal troops; they rush to arm the jaws following on the rhythmic cadence of the aortal drums. How greedily the mandible traps regrettable syllables inside the snare of the skeleton’s grin! Oh, the flavor of consonants and vowels, sometimes served in a sauce of fra diavolo, sometimes drenched in balsamic mignonette. Oh, how happy it makes the mouth to scare the sleeping mind awake!
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