Saturday, November 11, 2006

Chicken Teeth

I was four, and it was the most beautiful building I'd ever remembered seeing. Grandpa was constructing a new chicken coop and only the framework was up. The bright sun was glaring off of the clean smelling, yellow wood which was standing behind the house like a strange geometric skeleton. The floor joists were slightly too far to jump between, but if I took long enough steps my toes would just reach. Back and forth, to and fro, I walked along the length of the building. From one two-by-four to the next, hanging on by one hand to the smooth, upright boards that Grandpa said would soon be covered by walls.

Once I got brave and decided to step across without holding on to anything. What a thrill. I felt like an olympic gymnast, or at least the world champion chicken coop walker with my own private practicing coop. Back and forth and back again, I stretched out, reaching from beam to beam. Then my foot slipped off the two-by-four. I don't know how, I only remember seeing a board come up to hit me in the face, or rather the mouth.

My front teeth were gone and steaming, salty blood was washing over the magnificent yellow board. I must have been screaming like a steam engine because Grandma was immediately there taking me back into the house, and I was gushing blood all the way. I can't remember if it hurt. I'm sure it did, but I have no recollection of that.

Later I went out to look for my teeth. I found two of them tangled in the matted green grass and weeds now crusted with blood under the chicken coop, but the third was embedded deep into the wood. I couldn't get it out. It's probably there now. Grandpa just laid the floor over it, so if the boards were pulled up I'd find it. A little, white tooth stuck in a board.

I still do stupid, dare-devil things like that, and I still get hurt doing them, but nothing stands out so vividly as the chicken coop. Even after I knocked my teeth out, I went back to walking the chicken coop beams.

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