“Second Molars” by Bailey Gaylin Moore

Issue 82 Cover shows Chris Bovery print of a bridge in pink and blue with Willow Springs in decorative font.

Found in Willow Springs 82

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YOU LOOK MATURE FOR FOURTEEN: high cheekbones, arched brows, classic face muddled from dark makeup. When your older brother's friends smile in your direction, he gives them a steady eye, mouth firm with warning. And when your mother sees men glance in your direction, she reminds you of your age, patting the crown of your dirty blonde head like she did when she said goodbye on your first day of kindergarten.


Swat her hand away, just as you did on that first day of kindergarten. It's okay, you tell her, drawing on thicker eyeliner the next morning to hide your age. Thicker eyeliner to impress older friends, friends like Jillian, cigarette hanging out of her mouth, fists raised against the world. Thicker eyeliner to make boys sitting on high school hall­way vents look at you the same way as the men your mother warned you about.



VAGINA DENTATA, /v 'd3am drn'te1t / [< Latin dentata, adj., having teeth, toothed]

n. (Cultural Anthropol. and Psychol.)

  1. A vagina equipped with teeth occurring in myth, folklore, and religion. Vagina Dentata symbolizes fear of castration, the dangers of sexual intercourse, of birth or rebirth, etc. Makes penis either: 1. shrunken, afraid, or 2. altogether obsolete. Additionally, Vagina Dentata gives new meaning to Tupac's words, I ain't a killer, but don't push me. Revenge is the sweetest joy next to getting pussy.



IN 2010, Dr. Sonnet Ehlers created Rape-aXe condoms to combat overwhelming rape statistics in South Africa. The toothed condom will latch onto a future attacker, jagged teeth clenching down harder if he pulls out of his victim. In an interview regarding distributing Rape­ aXe condoms throughout the continent, a Ugandan representative for Disease Control and Prevention told  CNN, "The fears surrounding the victim, the act of wearing the condom in anticipation of being assaulted, all represent enslavement that no woman should be subject to."


And if his intentions are pure, thoughts of Rape-aXe condoms may cause faltering breaths even if she only says, Well, just the tip. Momentary in comparison to the indefinite female anticipation, anticipation being the way she gauges potential trust in men she will meet, perhaps in men she may already know—in any man she habit­ually lowers her head to while passing by on the street. Her history of unnamed enslavement.



CANINE, /'kemAml, [< Latin caninus, < canis dog]

n. (Anat. and Physiol.)

  1. Strong pointed teeth, one situated on each side of the upper and lower jaw between the incisors and the molars. Predatory teeth––teeth to tear food. Teeth to bite back hard.


  1. Supposes an appetite, supposes hunger: voracious, greedy, as that of a dog.



BRANSON, MISSOURI: Jillian buys cigarettes at a gas station with a tourist tax rate. You try a puff while she calls your mother pretending to be a parent chaperone on a trip just close enough from home. You hear her voice on the other end—Sounds like fun, she says. You unclench your jaws and breathe in the smoke.


When you return, your mother will ask about all the fun adven­tures you had: Waltzing Waters, Celebration City, perhaps Andy Williams singing "Moon River"—performances that will die within a decade. Branson's ghosts will leave behind chipped bright mansions and fallen neon signs, remnants of your childhood calling out in the night.


Instead of watching Andy Williams sing "Moon River," you go to a crusty hotel room off the strip. Jillian invites men who tell you how you look pretty in your red dress, men who ask how old you are, talking with Budweiser cans clutched in too-large hands. You say, I don't know how old I am, laughing through gritted teeth.



1926 — J. I. Suttie tr. S. Ferenczi Further Contrib. Psycho-anal. xxxii. 279. "Anxiety in regard to the mother's vagina (vagina dentata = birth anxiety)."



WHILE SIGMUND FREUD SHIFTS in his sleep, he dreams of his mother telling him to clean


He dreams of his mother, a castrated woman, a woman smiling with her front teeth.


Sigmund Freud's mother says, Do your homework, do your math equations.

He dreams of his mother, tucking him into bed—tight,


He dreams of his mother carrying him with            her     hip out,

his      father

touching the arch

of      her     back.

His mother. All boys dream of      their mother,

Sigmund Freud says.

He dreams of his mother, the head of Medusa, laughing­ snaked-hair wild, their teeth

alive, teeth snapping.

Sigmund Freud dreams of his mother.



MOLAR, /'mouler/, [< classical Latin moladris grinding tooth < mola millstone]

n. (Anat. and Physiol.)

  1. Each of the grinding teeth at the back of a mammal's mouth, typically having a broad occlusal surface and cusps, crescents, or ridges; a molar tooth, a grinding tooth, a tooth that grinds.



MILLSTONE, /'mil,ston/, [Cognate with or formed similarly to West Frisian molestien, Middle Dutch molensteen (Dutch molensteen), Old Saxon mulinsten (Middle Low German m8lensten), Old High German mulinstein, mulstein (Middle High German mulstein, Ger­ man Muhlstein), Norwegian (Bokmal) mollestein, Danish mollesten < the Germanic base of mill n.l + the Germanic base of stone n.]


  1. Either of a pair of circular stones which grind corn by the rotation of the upper stone on the lower (or nether) one.
  2. (fig.)
  3. A heavy and inescapable burden or responsibility; esp. in "a millstone round one's neck."



THE  LIGHTS ARE OUT, the red dress and Jillian gone. You're on the floor. One of the men is behind you breathing in your ear, whispering how your breasts look nice—young with perk. Nothing ever looks nice in the shadows, you think, and this is the one truth you will carry, the only certainty to hold onto, as you grow older. In the periphery, Branson's lights will fade along your side.


The man grunts as he pulls the hair at the top of your crown with those hands. He spits the question, Have you ever? until your ears and your neck and the side of your left cheek are wet from wet breath. You say No when he enters, deep and forceful, the teeth in your jaws rubbing together through the words please and stop. You aren't con­scious of time, but you are aware of the way he pushes back harder as you grab his face, digging nails into rough skin, repeating the words from the bottom of your lungs. His face will go unremembered, only his voice—low and short—when he spoke at you: Just a little longer, the voice would say. Good girl.


In the morning, you wake up with blood between your thighs and a missed call from your mother.



VAGINA DENTATA, /v::)'d3Am::) dm'te1t::)/, [< Latin dentata, adj., having teeth, toothed],

n. (Cultural Anthropol. and Psycho!.)

  1. A vagina equipped with teeth occurring in myth, folklore, and Vagina Dentata is a means to silence women, a means to instill fear of women, a means to encourage violence until submission; enslavement.



1980 - Jill Riatt The Journal of the American Academy of Religion. xlviii. 421. The Taming of Eve: Tertullian, as is now too well known, called woman the gate of hell. He was not speaking as a Christian theologian, although [I'm] sure he thought he was, and so others understood him to have spoken. No, Tertullian was voicing an ancient correlation of woman as "devourer." Female goddesses, driven underground, became hell's gatekeepers from Izangi of Japan to Kore/Persephone.



QUEEN ELIZABETH I, the Virgin Queen, was rumored to suffer from Vagina Dentata. Perhaps she pled with Thomas Seymour to come back after their first shot in the sack. Let's try one more time, she might have said, his back to her as he walked away. Let's try one more time, she said to herself whenever he was gone. She sat on a bloodied bed, just shy of realizing how alone she would always be.



HOLD THIS whenever you walk by the boys sitting on hallway vents—eyes down, eyes makeup free.

Hold this in: his low voice, how you cleaned the blood that morning with gas station toilet paper, how, when you finally got home, tears mixed with the warm water of the shower, running down your throat, between your breasts. When you get home, it takes three seconds for your mother to ask about your little vacation. It was okay, you say to her. You tell her, I just feel dirty, darting to the bathroom, a locked door.

Hold it in until you deflate, your throat dry when you will finally tell your secret during a confessional circle at church four months later. One guy will say he smoked weed, and another drank too much vodka one night. A girl will admit she's anorexic, but she's trying.


When it's your turn, you will say, I lost my virginity. You say, But I didn't mean to, face red, eyes looking beyond the edges of the circle. I lost my virginity, but I didn't mean to, because you didn't know the right words to communicate, ''A man raped me."



MAORI LEGEND tells of the gatekeeper of hell—the goddess, Hine-nui-te-po, whom Maui looked to conquer, granting men everlasting life. His father warns him, Her body is like a woman's, but the pupils of her eyes are greenstone and her hair is kelp. Her mouth is that of a barracuda, and in the place where men enter she has sharp teeth of obsidian. Maui is crushed by this obsidian, the fate of mankind scarred with mortality. Rather than a woman embodying the sustenance of life, she is instead blamed for mankind's finality.



IN HINDU LEGEND, a Rakshasa lived as a tigress, yawning in the grass, itching her stomach while the cicadas churned. If the spirit happened to catch a man grabbing a woman's shoulders, pressing his body deep and forceful against hers, the tiger would evolve into something sleek, something desirable who could not go untouched: a beautiful woman with curvy edges, mouth corners flicking before seeking retribution. After she seduced the man, the Rakshasa bit back as he entered, treating herself to an erect snack. She fed the rest of the man's body to the other tigers when she was finished.


The Rakshasa went through seven brothers this way. A Hindu god spoke to the eighth brother in a dream. Get a stick, the god told the boy. Shove it inside. Make that Rakshasa, that wicked man-eater, bleed like a woman should bleed.



THE CHURCH LEADER will tell your mother, who will sit on the edge of your home's stairs. Just let me have some space, you will say, arms limp whenever she hugs your body. Notice how your body will feel like a five-year-old girl's as her fingers brush the crown of your head. Don't swat her hands away.


Later, your brother will come into your room. He will not know what to do with his hands, frantic in the dormant air. You will watch him from your bed. You will tell him, I'm sorry.


No. No, no, no, no, he will say, the words staccatoed between sobs and finding his breath. He will walk over to you, putting his arms around you just like your mother did. I should have been there, he will tell you. I should have been there, saying it again until your comforter is damp with his tears and your pillow is damp from your tears and he can't breathe and you can't breathe, the room folding in on itself.


It's okay, you will tell your brother. It's okay, you will tell yourself.


And you will tell yourself the same as a grown woman, grinding your second molars whenever an honest man brushes the nape of your neck, the negative edges of your curves. You're so beautiful, the man will say, but his breath will be too hot in your ear, too wet for com­fort. So you will think of Elizabeth and the tigress, crossing your arms over whatever you can as you make your body—as you make yourself—smaller and smaller until he is finished.




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