Ravenous Dentistry New and Improved

I remember reading That Night We Were Ravenous back in my first year English Lit class. Looking back on the poem, I feel as if I have a very similar view on it as I did last year, although perhaps a better understanding of metaphor. The poem also reminds me of when I went driving across Canada and how in the large nature park in B.C. (you drive through it and animals are everywhere) there were these wild animals just a few meters from my car. Over the course of the 6 hour drive through the park I saw grizzly bears, mountain goats, and deer. On one occasion there was a moose half a foot from my window, I could have reached out and touched him he was so close. The Night We Were Ravenous reminds me of the feeling of being that close to nature, and its wildness and intensity is reflected in the poem. My favorite line from the poem, and my favorite metaphor, lies in the fifth stanza and is as follows:

She had burst from the zoo of our dreams and was

there, like a yanked-out tooth the dentist

puts in your hand.

The imagery displayed is simple, yet entirely accurate. Going to the dentist is not usually a pleasurable experience for anyone, especially not when the dentist has to pull a tooth or use the tooth polisher that feels like sandpaper being scraped all over your gums. However, when looking at a pulled tooth, or a wisdom tooth, you are gazing at this wild thing, purely animalistic in its nature because it does not care for order, or for the rest of your mouth, it is what it is. Not only is the wild tooth entirely naturalistic, but it describes the intensity of nature, the wildness you feel when you stand on top of a mountain looking below at all the insignificance, or the rawness of love making outdoors. Not so unlike a dentist (although perhaps not the love making) pulling a rabid tooth from the perfect order and geometry of the human mouth, ravenous in the experience and wild in the excitement and fear of the unknown.

Another line in the poem that continues the ravenous and untamed imagery is as follows: "No man had touched her or given her movements geometry" (Steffler, 24). This line shows the moose/mother nature as something still pure, as most things that are touched by man become less natural, less free. Not only is this moose entirely free, but also without geometry. What then is something that moves with geometry? Is it something who's movements are expected and mathematical such as a machine or a bowling ball running down the alley? I think that Steffler is trying to convey to the readers a sense of not knowing everything. By not knowing exactly how the moose is supposed to move, it becomes unpredictable and that much more exciting.


Created with images by Unsplash - "moose water forest"

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