Another day in the tooth mines.

It wasn’t a good job, no, but it was a stable one.
“They’ll always need teeth,” his dad had said, and Adam Cavalier had listened.
His fingers sweat and wrinkle inside the rubber gloves,
his hands ache from gripping the pliers.

Bend and yank, bend and yank, eight hours a day.
His back aches, his arms strain and shake, his eyes smart from the haze.
Dropping teeth into the buckets attached to his waist.
4 dollars for every twenty pound bucket he fills.

Rich vein of enamel here; the town is built upon it.
No risk of running dry; sonic imaging shows hundreds of layers of dentition still to grow.
Two hundred years at the current rate, and no point in going faster; the teeth grow as fast as they grow.

Lord, but he hates the way the ground squishes underfoot,
The soft nacreous glaze that coats his gear at the end of the month,
the slightly tacky viscousness of the water running down the walls.
But teeth kept his father under a roof, and his father before him,
and teeth shall lead him home, too.

God willing.