Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Auden is a dentist in the spirit world

I had a dream a few nights ago that W.H. Auden was my dentist. This is one of the strangest dreams I have ever had. First of all, I can't think of any other time I've had a dream that involved a poet living or dead. Second, I haven't been reading Auden, nor have I been thinking about him. Perhaps, somewhere, I read a snippet of his poem to Yeats, which I really love--I seem to dimly recall that.

But my dentist? And he had to do some really painful dental work on me. He was nice about it. I asked him if he had a new book coming out. I don't remember what he said. He didn't mention that he was dead, so of course not.

What does this mean? That I find Auden painful? By the way, I also despise dentists and live in fear of them. I absolutely cannot get myself to go. My fear of dentists was a recent topic of conversation between myself and my husband. And I discussed it with my father.

Our family dentist when I was a kid, Dr. Delorme, was the dentist from hell. My own feeling was that he had been a veterinarian prior to becoming a pediatric dentist. He would come in, grunt, often not even say hello, usually didn't even seem to acknowledge that you existed. He would pry open your mouth as though you were a horse. He often didn't let the Novocaine take effect completely before he started drilling. If you started crying, he might stop. And yell at you.

My father listened to all of this and said, you know, he was a Navy dentist before he started his own practice. This suddenly made everything clear.

Do I wish that a poet could do my dentistry to make it all more bearable? Or interesting? Or humane? But why Auden? Does he seem more empathetic than other poets? Probably not. Is there some possibility he bore a slight resemblance to Dr. Delorme, whose face I can't quite clearly bring to mind?

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