My Geographic Tongue


I have a geographic tongue.  This is what my dentist says:  “Do you know you have a geographic tongue?”

“My God,” I say, “I love it.”


I can hear it as a line from Lori Anderson: You/With your/Geo-gra-phic/Tongue!


It’s a tongue not evenly covered by a carpet of microvili; some patches are missing: the flesh of the naked tongue is exposed, and what is worse: the red patches are gradually moving from place to place, as the borders of countries do during war.


“People worry about this red flesh,” he says, “so I got into the habit of putting it into my file, ‘G.T.’, as soon as I notice it.  Because five years later they come back screaming: ‘Doctor,’ they say, ‘there’s something weird.  Looks like cancer.’  And I tell them, ‘Don’t worry,’ I say, ‘it’s all in my files: you have a geographic tongue.  You’ve had it all along.'”