The Beard On My Face
She used to touch the beard on my face,
Whether nascent or full,
And stroke it with two fingers.
She would indulge in the bristles
As they bit tenderly into her chin
When we kissed and kissed
The way we used to
Kiss and kiss.
She loved when it was mostly brown and a little blonde and ginger
And loved it more when the white began to overtake the brown and blonde
And touch of ginger.
If I shaved because it’s not our world but theirs
And I must get along sometimes
She would be sad but understanding of that.
So many memories of her touching my chin and smiling,
Saying, “I like it”.
I like the way it looks, too. I always have,
Even in youthful wispiness.
When I was a teenager my first girlfriend wanted me to grow a beard so badly
But my face was not ready. She would tell me often,
“Just try” as if I had some say in the matter.
My first true love, she claimed not to like it
But many years later, when she was safely ensconced in her life without me,
She admitted she liked the beard on my face so much
That the enormity of the attraction frightened her.
That made me tingle before I shivered at the potential lost opportunity.
I shaved and I shaved because of her falsehood.
I just came back from work meetings hours away,
Shitty hotel, endless speeches and soul-deteriorating team building,
A smile fake and servile for the bosses,
Clean shaven and fat-faced,
Wishing I could come home from this endless denigration
To the woman who would greet me at the door with
A brush of my one day growth and a smile,
Saying with a sigh,
“Well, I love you anyway”
And meaning it.
Really meaning it.
John Tustin‘s poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals since 2009 and is forthcoming in Chiron Review, New Feathers Anthology, Prole and many others.