by Christian Sommartino
Ever since the emergency room,
I’ve stayed up late, with my ear to your chest,
listening with my makeshift stethoscope.
Your breath is the hushed battle of crocuses
breaching through layers of slush and mud
to poke their defiant beauty into the dawn.
I hear legions of blizzards leaving almanacs
of snow and silence inside your lungs,
attempting to impose a gag order,
attempting to freeze & burst all the water
inside your chest, like the pipes in a home,
until they are all amnesia and extinction.
But your breath melts the frozen water table,
forges a path through the coffins of ice and shadows
in the underworld, refuses the forbidden fruit.
The crocuses discover a cartography beyond muscle
memory, tunneling through abandoned mine shafts,
weaving around rusting junkyard contraptions,
growing through the bones of your ancestors,
who raise the tender blossoms through the soil,
while the hymnal of your breathing crescendos
through the earth and your sternum cracks
in a flurry of dispelled frost and bone.
Sprays of purple and yellow crocuses
emerge from your lungs, replacing suffocation
and pneumonia with a haven of blossoms, replacing
your death certificate with the vaccine of nectar.
Your body is a field of wildflowers—as if you say,
the only outbreak there will be on this equinox
is this wild transmission of blossoms.
The only diagnosis there will be is pollen and honey—
the only prognosis there will be is perennial resurrection.
Christian Sammartino’s poems have appeared in Yes Poetry, Rogue Agent Journal, Apiary Magazine, and more. He studied religion and philosophy at Elizabethtown College and West Chester University. His poetry is influenced by life in the Pennsylvania Rust Belt near his hometown of Coatesville, Pennsylvania. When he is not writing poetry, you can find Christian hiking through Pennsylvania’s state parks with his wife, Kelsey.