milk tooth bane bone

Posted by Daniela Elza on Nov 07 2010

I lost my first tooth at six— 
threw it on the roof for crows

here	 crow	 is my bone tooth! 
give me one as strong as iron!

imagined 	a crow 
lining her nest with milk teeth. 

worried 	when 
the rains came down in torrents:

can a tooth get washed away 
before a crow finds it?

but always a new tooth grew. 


a child		a crow		
and a chant 		stretched 
	(between them—

a promise 	one dares 
not enough 		to break. 

in the little fist—	a tooth
in the mouth—	a rhyme: 

na  ti  vrano  kosten  zoub
dai  me  ti  zhelezen  zoub. 

a yarn (so fine) around my finger
I wind.		Remember 	

what holds us 	in Time.


my son sells his tooth to	
			a purple fairy. 	

		(a coin 
	(a glance

(an innocent exchange
in the night.

but I worry

when some haggle for 	the price
of this trans-	action.

I gave my teeth to the crows
and they have not left me alone.

This poem is part of my unpublished manuscript (with the working title Milk Tooth Bane Bone) which is currently looking for a home. The poem came as part of the exploration of my fascination with crows. So it is about crows but more about language, writing, and images we are nurtured with. I wanted to know why crows? Went back into my memory until I stumbled on the moment when, with the enthusiasm and hope reserved for children, I gave my teeth to the crows.

I was reminded, yet again, of the power of images. A staying power. In this culture which is so pervasive and perverse with images, most of which are meant to sell you something, we might be surprised to find that they can, and do, shape consciousness. Perhaps that is advertising’s best kept secret?

What images do we nurture our children with today? And what spaces are we creating for our children to dwell in? What about the spaces we create for ourselves to dwell in?

The topic of this blog carnival is language and place, hosted by Dorothee Lang. An appropriate topic for a virtual carnival on the web which weaves its magic beyond boarders and has no geographical limitations.

I was born in Bulgaria, grew up in Nigeria, traveled quite a bit with my family in between. Now live in Canada, after six years in the States, and one in England. I believe we are the sum of all the languages and places we have lived in. I cannot imagine giving up any part of this sum. (Besides, I do not think that is possible.)

While that makes me feel a bit alien no matter where I am, it also makes me feel like I belong to a much bigger place than the one I am in at any one time. It is both a blessing and a curse to have a detached attachment. To be an arms-length observer. To be painfully aware of how easily we can buy into one world-view and negate another. To listen to how decisions and policies are made from such limited perspectives. As I said: a curse, and a blessing.

In such multicultural skin it is easier to notice our commonalities. Could it be that when we are only limited to one world view, one way of thinking and seeing, we tend to focus on how it is different from others?

I see this us/them attitude as an epidemic we are suffering from right now. It keeps playing itself out right before our eyes. (This mentality permeates human history.) The question that stays with me today is: can we really afford such an attitude any longer?

7 Responses to “milk tooth bane bone”

  1. Al Says:

    Great poem and title, Daniela. The title feels like something you could chant — maybe at a book launch? Best of luck with the ms. Ciao

  2. Daniela Elza Says:

    Thanks Al,
    I am keeping my fingers crossed. It is out of my hands now. :-)

  3. sherry o'keefe Says:

    i love this: “why crows?”

    for me it was rocks. for my children, rocks as well. if a story were a rock, we could turn that rock over and over in our hands, searching for exactly the right entry point. the right spot, the right moment, the tip of a chisel and tadah, we can crack open that rock, revealing the story inside. your post about “why crows?” reminds me of this.

    nice to read your work.

  4. Daniela Elza Says:

    Thanks Sherry,

    for your thoughtful comment. And the beautiful stone metaphor, which is a good metaphor for writing as well.
    I got caught up reading poems on your blog and quite enjoyed them. Will have to go back and explore more.

  5. karyn Says:

    It’s fascinating, your interest in crows. I keep coming back to it, wondering why your crow focus sticks with me. And then I remembered a solitary crow image–from a walk through a park in Vienna with Dorothee back in June. Just now I found it in my archives. You might find it interesting and/or of use. I’ll email it to you.

  6. Nicolette Says:

    It’s wonderful to see you belong to a much bigger place out there than the one you’re in at present…the unknownness of that realm.

    I wanted to go to Bulgaria 7 years ago but it’s tricky getting a visa in HK, so finally I changed plans.

    I’m the December host of Language/Place so I hope you’ll send something!

  7. Daniela Elza Says:

    Hi Nicolette,

    I like
    “the unknownness of the realm”
    that is what poetry is for me. It is a physical realm, with spiritual dimensions.

    Hope you make it to Bulgaria sometime. The beauty of the country pulls me. There are so many ways in which I do not feel I belong there, and there are many less tangible ways in which the place pulls me.

    I will try to contribute to the December carnival. Thanks for hosting it.