Standing in Walmart before a shelf of thirty-seven different kinds of toothpaste, I am compelled to comprehensively read and examine each box as though my life depends on this decision. Partway through the text of an ambiguously named “Glacial White” flavored paste, I remember one I saw in a targeted ad which was blueberry flavored and came in a hand soap-shaped container. It was supposed to whiten your teeth, and I wondered how many times I would accidentally try to wash my hands with it, and wondered what could be in toothpaste to make it worth twenty dollars and I know if I left empty-handed with the intention of ordering it, it would sit in my Amazon cart for weeks because I feel guilty ordering from there and can never be bothered to get my wallet, and I used to know my credit card number when I was younger—I used to know a lot of things. Like how to be decisive. How to like things without constant fretting and analysis of whether it’s good enough to be liked. And I’m not talking about art made by rapists or pedophiles, I’m talking about the color blue and Jane Austen novels, and how I’m twenty-six and have just spent thirty minutes of my life trying to choose a god damn toothpaste as though this one choice can undo the wake of regrets I wade through each night before I fall asleep, and every day I sit at work staring at a wall with chipped paint and pushpin holes, and a shadow of what once hung there.

Emma Hair is a poet, artist, and editor based in North Texas. Through poetry, she has found space to explore emotions, capture moments, and ask possibly unanswerable questions. Her work has previously appeared in Black Telephone Magazine, Ellipsis Zine, and Square Wheel Press’ inaugural anthology. You can find her on IG @em.hair or on Twitter @emhair.

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