A Little Tooth by Thomas Lux
Your baby grows a tooth, then two,
and four, and five, then she wants some meat
directly from the bone. It’s all
over: she’ll learn some words, she’ll fall
in love with cretins, dolts, a sweet
talker on his way to jail. And you,
your wife, get old, flyblown, and rue
nothing. You did, you loved, your feet
are sore. It’s dusk. Your daughter’s tall.
I first saw this poem while riding the subway. The MTA picked it as a part of their Poetry In Motion program. Each poem stays up for a few months, before another takes its place.
Clyde Haberman of the Times, a fellow fan of the poem, spoke to the author, back in 2007, as “A Little Tooth”’s run was drawing to a close.
Lux, who teaches poetry at Georgia Tech said, “I’ve gotten more feedback on that poem than I’ve had on any other,”
He wrote it after his daughter, Claudia, was born. She is now 19, a student at Sarah Lawrence. Until she noticed the poem while riding the subway and told him about it, he didn’t know he had been chosen.
Don’t take everything about it literally, Mr. Lux said. “Only some of that stuff came true — about cretins and dolts and sweet talkers on their way to jail,” he said.
Just give her time, we said unhelpfully.
“Yeah,” Mr. Lux said with a laugh, “give her time.”
My Outlook On Life, Part 1, here.