After I am dead
You will hear about it somehow.
You will cry and imagine you flung yourself
Upon my already descended coffin,
Crying for God to take you, too.
After I am dead you will think about me
At moments during your day sometimes:
You will imagine that we lived the second half of our lives together
Until I died.
You will close your eyes and see what I must have looked like
With a head of hair more white than brown. Such deep creases around my eyes
Still dark and blue and looking right into you.
You will lie in bed and imagine I am there, my head to your breast.
Your hand holds mine and my voice vibrates your body
When I tell you that you are still so
When I look at you
In the morning
Lying beside me in bed.
After I am dead you will cry sometimes:
A small silent sob.
Not every day or even every week, but often enough
That it disturbs your heart.
Someone you love may ask you why you are upset,
Seeing your tears before you can hide them
And you won’t tell them, of course.
After I am dead I will remain the dirty little secret of your life
And your heart.
You will see yourself as my widow,
Reading the hundreds and hundreds of poems I wrote about you
Before I gave up on us – some long after you gave up
You will never set eyes upon the thousands of poems I wrote about you
After we both surrendered to your weakness.
You will know, somehow, that they were written.
After I am dead
You will look in the mirror
And see me beside you. You will feel me there,
My hand on your shoulder, my fingers in your hair that has become white
And still so very black.
You will feel my breath warm in your ear,
My lips then touching your neck almost imperceptibly.
You will shake uncontrollably,
Knowing your life has been largely a fraud.
After I am dead you will think about me.
You will think about me often.
You will see me in coffee shops,
On the train,
Across from your kitchen table as you look out of your window
In the stairway that leads to your lonely bed.
I will be infused in the objects on your dresser.
The utensils in your kitchen drawer – each one is a word in a poem
I wrote about us.
After I am dead,
Until the day you are dead,
You will think about me when you least want to and realize
That you made a terrible
I was not a game piece
But your life
Was just a game.
John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals since 2009. fritzware.com/johntustinpoetry contains links to his published poetry online.