power, pronouns and personal hygiene

toothbrushes
In the glass beside the sink
my toothbrush
kisses yours.

I don’t think that counts as a haiku, as brushing one’s teeth is neither nature-related nor a seasonal activity; perhaps, though, it could be classed as a senryu – similar to a haiku but focused on human foibles. Either way, it is one of the pieces in Poems from the pueblo. Haiku and assorted fragments, which is currently available to download free from Amazon.

Having re-read it in order to post it here, I am struck by how pro-active the narrator’s toothbrush is. I wonder why I didn’t write “your toothbrush/ kisses mine.” And then I get bogged down trying to work out which version would be more romantic.

On further consideration I can see there are a host of other stories lurking in the same image: “her toothbrush/ kisses his”, perhaps; or “his toothbrush/ kisses hers.” The power dynamic and implied relationship alters considerably with a simple change of pronoun.

When I wrote the original, it was very much a demonstration of mutual affection that I envisaged, but now I’m wondering if I can offer a more ambiguous vision.

Maybe something along the lines of:

Your toothbrush kisses
my toothbrush bristles.

Maybe it was fine as it was and I shouldn’t have started tinkering.

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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