“The Night I Died in My Sleep” by John Tustin

The night I died in my sleep last week
I woke up somehow in my old bedroom
With the Spider-man poster on the wall
And the room smelling like the worst of me
Because I always kept my door closed.

I was dizzy when I opened my eyes, lying face up in bed,
And my mother was standing to the left side of me.
I was so thin and straight-legged!
My stereo was right where I remembered it.

“Don’t drink so much or so often,” she said.
“Don’t do too many stupid things.
Follow your dreams, but look before you leap.
I know you hate school but no one cares.
They just care about that piece of paper.
Make sure a woman is good for you and to you before you marry her.
Be good to others. Be a good boy.
Now get up and brush your teeth.”

I closed my eyes again
And when I reopened them I was in this bed again, this room again:
Not a teenage boy but a man leaning toward old age.
I was alive again and my mother was not alive again.
“I’m glad I didn’t get the chance to tell her everything she just said
Was advice given much too late,”
I said to myself: alone in my apartment and wiggling my loose tooth.

John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals in the last twelve years. His website contains links to his published poetry online.

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