Black and White Photograph

by John Tustin

I see the moment in my mind
As if I was not a participant but witnessed it –
Like an old black and white photograph
Of two people in a single speck of time
That has defined their entire lives to a stranger.

I see her: lovely dark girl in eyeglasses
Dressed for office business
And kissing that man who looks a bit shabby
In his t-shirt and unironed jeans
Before a manmade fountain among the bustling of Manhattan.

He is much taller than her so she is on her toes
And the kiss has obviously taken him by surprise.
Her eyes are closed and she’s smiling.
He is standing completely still, in shock.
He looks like he’s being electrocuted.

The love looks nascent but the love looks true.
I imagine it’s their first kiss.
Yes, the snapshot looks like love.
I can see it from where I’m standing,
Off to the side holding my old-fashioned camera.

I take the photograph out sometimes
From the old splintered drawer where I keep such things
And I look at it, imagining I wasn’t there
Being kissed by an impossibly beautiful woman
Before a gaudy manmade fountain on a Tuesday afternoon

But instead took the picture of them,
Keeping them alive in fantasy, swimming in oceans of ink
Where they would live in love forever,
Her on her toes kissing him
As he stood there, immobile, being kissed,

His heart exploding with the possibilities and the passion,
Not even thinking of the potential of inevitable disappointment.
I pretend she is good and he isn’t broken,
Just for another second or two,
Then I put the photograph away and go to the window,

Closing it before more rain gets in.


John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals since 2009. contains links to his published poetry online.

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