Two Poems–John Tustin

Take a Moment

Take a moment.
Take a moment
and close your eyes.
Close your eyes
and pet the cat –
the cat you loved
that died of leukemia
when you were twelve.
Remember when you were sick
and she slept at the foot of your bed
all night?
Close your eyes and stroke her memory
from head to tail.
Tell her she was a good girl –

IS a good girl.
Take a moment.
Take a moment
and call your mother
now more than fifteen years gone.
Close your eyes
and call her on the phone.
Ask her how she is
and tell her that you love her.
Remember how she used to
have to drag I Love You, Mom
out of you?
Take a moment,
close your eyes
and just give up those words
to her
without asking.

Take a moment.
Take a moment
and think about
the grandfather you never met.
Close your eyes,
find him inside of you
in your bones and your mind;
in the way you hold a pencil wrong

or how you like Dave Brubek
and Glenn Miller.
Find him and thank him
for being a part of you,
helping to create
the you that you are.
Take a moment,
close your eyes
and thank him.

Take a moment.
Take a moment
and close your eyes.
See the one who loved you
and then didn’t love you
Yes, you close your eyes
and see her all the time
but this time will be different.
Give her a hug
and ask her to forgive you
for not forgiving her.
Ask her to forgive you
for all you thought and said
and did not say.
Ask her to love you differently now –
the way men love brothers-in-arms;
the way a child loves his best teacher;
the way a teacher loves
his most inquisitive and precocious student.
Love her like a sister.
Close your eyes
and embrace her like a sister.
Love her newly,
the way we should love
the people we pass on the street;
the people we’ve once met;
the people we’ve never met;
the people who have died
and all those people yet to breathe.

Take a moment,
close your eyes.
Close your eyes,
breathe deeply
and stroke the world
as if it is a cat
lying loyally
at the foot
of a sick child’s bed.

Thank Your Mother

You can choose to thank your mother
For bringing you into the world
Or curse her for doing it
Without your permission

Or, like me,
You can just make the best of the circumstances
And consider her just another one trapped here
Without a say.

The tree in the yard –
You remember when it was just a sapling,
A little stick emerging from the ground
And pointing up toward elsewhere.
Now it’s big and points in all directions.
It never thinks about why it’s there.
It never thanks or curses anything.
I want to be like the tree.

The rain would fall and I would thoughtlessly pull
The water from the soil,
Suck it up into me.
The lightning would split me in half
And I would die sizzling,
Without fear or anger.

You can choose to thank your mother
Or curse her
But I wouldn’t give her any blame or credit:
It’s best to just acknowledge existence.
Pull the water from the soil into you,
Think no ill thoughts when you are taken.

John Tustin’s poetry is forthcoming in The MacGuffin, Innisfree Poetry Journal, SOFTBLOW, and others. contains links to his published poetry online. He is also a previous contributor to Masque & Spectacle.