You Don’t Have to Put Your Teeth in for Me

Karen Peacock

He pulled the covers over his shedding skin,
Put a napkin over his phlegm-filled cup
Turned the volume down on the TV
And up in his ear,
Cleared his throat through the foggy mask,
Tipped the seat down to his bedside commode
As he reached for his teeth,
And I said, You don’t have to put your teeth in for me.

About the poet:

Karen Peacock is a board-certified art therapist working on the palliative care unit at the Memphis VA Medical Center. She received her master’s in art therapy from Pratt Institute in 2008.

About the poem:

“This poem was inspired by an experience I had with a patient on the palliative care unit. He seemed to be burdened by the need to present himself in a certain way to me when I entered the room. I wanted to relieve him of this burden and allow him to be as comfortable as possible.”

Poetry editors:

Judy Schaefer and Johanna Shapiro


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