IN PLACE OF MY MOUTH, A ROADSIDE CROSS
The one that replaced the flares at the accident scene
where you wrapped your pickup truck around a tree
when you were so heavy with sleep that you ghosted
across the lanes and out of my life.
My mouth tries to form the letters of your name,
but your birth stone catches in my throat, keeps me quiet
as a funeral—every day is the February you went away.
I see you walking home through the corn fields
with red clay on your palms from digging up
the cedar box I used to bury our wedding rings.
Just like Jesus returning to the disciples,
you ask me to touch the holes in your hands,
proving you are my real savior in the desert of grief.
Out in the pasture where you proposed, I camp
under the tree where we carved our vows into the bark,
and use the starlight to find the scars of those words
in the hollow where only our hands could reach.
We promised to find a cure for so much pain.
I’m calling for your help, but all I can see are hand painted
letters crawling up this white cross. I’m calling for your help,
but all I have are prayer candles with burned out wicks.
I’m not ready to read your obituary—I swear I still see
a cloud of dust as you pull into our gravel driveway
in your truck, stepping out of a halo of Marlboro smoke,
walking up to me in the flannel shirt I bought you.
I still feel you brushing the hair behind my ear,
and the shape of your goodnight kiss on my cheek.
I’m calling for your help; I need your love
in this desolate country where I see your shadow
flicker in the windows of your workshop, but all the lights
are off and spiders boarded up the door—everything
here was made by your hands and there aren’t instructions
on how to use these contraptions without you.
They call me a widow, but all I can say is your name
written on the cards in front of the cross, and our wedding
date in the old red barn in front of those witnesses.
My mouth is a memorial—you’re alive in the museum
behind my lips. I’m calling for your help, please send a sign
other than the omen of this roadside cross.
Please tell them the flowers by the highway
are from our wedding— I don’t know who to trust.
Say you will take off your Sunday best and return to me.
Skinny dip in the pond with me. Rise again from your coffin,
and walk into that water as you hold my hand.
I’m calling for your help—please don’t leave like a messiah
and make me worship at the altar of your disappearance.
Come home to me so we can keep our vows.
Christian Sammartino is the co-founder and Editor-In-Chief of Rising Phoenix Review. He studied religion and philosophy at West Chester University. He is a Library Communications Technician at Francis Harvey Green Library. His poetry is influenced by life in the Pennsylvania Rustbelt near his hometown of Coatesville. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in magazines such as Rogue Agent, Ghost City Review, Voicemail Poems, and Yes, Poetry. His first chapbook, Keystones, was released by Rising Phoenix Press in December 2014.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.