Marisa Crawford

When the dental hygienist tried to slowly understand

When the dental hygienist tried to slowly understand why our family is four women with three different last names, all the while with her hands in your mouth, you gurgling in response.

The time Gina came into my room and said but if you were pregnant I would help you, and if I were pregnant I would kill it with a skillet. Goodnight. Where did she go. Am I doomed to live out this destiny alone.

I realized I hated him as we began our three-hour car ride for a weekend away. I said, isn’t it weird how we can see all the babies and children of people who we haven’t seen in twenty years on the Internet, and isn’t it weird that everyone has children.

He was like no, no I don’t think it’s weird, I used to but I don’t anymore. Two roads diverged in a yellow wood.

He would be like, it’s a poem about a deeply troubled ambiguity.

All those children’s faces on my computer screen.

What if the shot didn’t really go in, I thought as the nurse pushed the needle in my arm. In my mind a stream of blood shot out cartoonishly.

The vaccine didn’t go in though, someone commented on the Instagram video of the celebrity getting her vaccine. So I watched the video again and again, zooming in on the screen.

You went to the dentist on your lunch break from your job at Brooks Pharmacy, and your manager told you not to clock out so you were getting paid to go to the dentist, and the dental hygienist said your teeth were so white she was shocked you hadn’t had them professionally whitened.

And then your phone rang and your ringtone was Blink 182 “I Miss You,” for your family, and the dental hygienist said, oh I get it, because you miss them. She called in the other dental hygienist to see.

Marisa Crawford is the author of the poetry collections Reversible and The Haunted House from Switchback Books. She is co-editor, with Megan Milks, of We Are The Baby-Sitters Club: Essays & Artwork from Grown-Up Readers (Chicago Review Press, 2021). Marisa’s writing has appeared in The Nation, Harper’s Bazaar, Hyperallergic, and elsewhere. She is the creator and editor-in-chief of WEIRD SISTER, a website and organization that explores the intersections of feminism, literature, and pop culture, and co-host of the 90s rock podcast All Our Pretty Songs. Find her at