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The Tooth Fairy

Updated: Mar 19, 2021

this poem is for my nine year old sister

who pretends to believe in the tooth fairy

this poem is for her narrowed eyes as she wonders

why the tooth fairy forgot to come

when she lost a tooth

but didn’t tell anyone

her eyes test me

i tell her,

when you’re older,

the tooth fairy doesn’t consider you a priority.

for my nine year old sister

who screams with joy when she finds a note

under her pillow

as if the paper still sparkles with fairy magic

as if she holds a relic

a rarity, something to be held close

and cherished.

her smile filled with doorways

this poem is for eight year old me,

hands clenched over stubborn ears

singing loudly,

when my older cousin insisted that

the tooth fairy

didn’t exist.

when i confronted my parents about the spare card from the tooth fairy

found in the hallway before their bedroom

she must have dropped it,

they told me

i said i believed them

humans pretend to believe in all sorts of thing

we pretend for our parents


we pretend for our children

the american dream

we pretend for ourselves

life has meaning

some beliefs we pretend to believe

for so long,

they become woven into us,

the stitches no longer foreign

they die with us:

belief in god

in karma

in heaven and hell

pretending to believe is a uniquely human phenomena

no other creature would choose to live in the gray,

the gorgeous glow

of half stirred belief,

of the magic

of the cloth tied determinedly over open eyes

when we go past survival, when the world is no longer

blood, and pain and pulling in your next breath,

we notice


we notice the sun rise

the rains fall

the earth scorched in blues, and reds, and pinks,

and purples

we pretend to believe in gods

in a human like charioteer of the skies

that they too

the beyond belief



fight, and love and lose like mortals

like us they are flawed

like us they are perfect

rose tinted glasses,

we believe in magic

can’t magic explains sunsets better than smog particles

can’t magic explain the stars, punctures in a midnight blanket

better than scientists in lab coats

can’t magic explain human life, the gasping cry, eyes opening for the first time,

better than biology

we draw gods,

because the gods are ours to draw

they are ours to believe in,

to shield ourselves with

belief is a parent, a guardian

when the world is

too dark to see through

can i pretend to believe in the

absoluteness of human goodness

that humanity travels,


in an upwards trajectory

can i pretend to believe that life

contains purpose as well as meaning?

pretend to believe that

climate change

is so far off

that it will never affect me?

can i pretend to believe

that all will end up well?

that every human has a happy home,

a well-fed stomach

can i pretend to believe that people

don’t die before their time

that death will not strike my household

that my health with hold



will go according to plan

humans believe we can will


into existence

and i love us for it

we pretend to believe, because

true belief and disbelief seem equally

far away

both feel like

free float

free fall

i can’t throw


into them

viscosity of dreams

so can’t we pretend to believe

a bit longer?

it is the marker of the receding tides

of childhood,

when we forget to pretend

any longer,

when we forget to check

for a note beneath the pillow.

this poem is about all the things we believe in,

and don’t believe in,

or pretend to believe in.

but this poem...

this poem is for my nine year old sister.

for the day when she forgets to believe in the tooth fairy…

for the day when we forget to expect her to

for the day she is the one crawling into her child’s bedroom,

tucking something under their pillow.

for the day, she hears their scream of joy,

as they too

discover the magic.

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