The Best Literary Writing About Mothers and Motherhood

Katie Manning – Poetry

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Katie Manning

Love Poem with Teeth

for Jon

What would you do with it?
you ask. I would keep it
hidden in my jewelry box
like a witch collecting
body parts for a spell,
I think. Then I go ahead
and say that out loud.
You laugh and look
like you don’t believe
I’m serious. Later, when
we’ve waited for our son
to be deep in dreams,
we sneak into our own
bedroom, you shining
a screen light across
our firstborn tucked
into the sleeping bag
where he begged to be
on this special night.
We negotiate in whispers—
a two-headed fairy too
new to the job to be suave—
because we both want
to make the exchange.
I lie beside our son, slip
the Ziploc bag from under
his pillow, slowly slide
a dollar into its place.
We make our escape.
At the kitchen counter,
we stand side-by-side
and examine his tooth,
its surprising long roots.
I hand it to you and say,
You’ll have to make it
disappear. I resign myself
to its loss. A few minutes
later, you return to me,
chin down, cheeks pink,
and say, I can’t bring
myself to throw it out.
I laugh, and we kiss,
and I know I’ll sneak
upstairs again, conceal
this little bit of our child
in a locket to keep safe.
You gently place our
first baby’s first baby
tooth in my open palm
like the token of love it is.

Katie Manning is the founding editor-in-chief of Whale Road Review and an associate professor of writing at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. She is the author of Tasty Other, which won the 2016 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award, and four chapbooks, including The Gospel of the Bleeding Woman. Her poems have appeared in New Letters, Poet Lore, Stirring, THRUSH, Verse Daily, and many journals and anthologies. Find her online at


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