Kevin returns from his deployment by walking
out of the fields wearing his favorite flannel shirt
with the sleeves rolled up — he strolls into the party
like he never had a roadside cross with his name
attached — when his fiancée sees him resurrected
from the coffin of shadow cast by the old red barn
she vaults into his arms, kisses his red neck,
touches the scars on his hands like she is reading
a marriage license, and hugs him closer
than the dress she is wearing — his buddies
pop the tops of cans of BPR like they are bottles
of Champagne — they dowse them in a jubilant spray
until their clothes stick to their skin. Kevin’s dog
runs circles around the group, launching parachutes
of white dandelion seeds into the air like rice
during a wedding recessional — Kevin kisses his bride
and carries her to a chair in the circle of bonfire light.
His dad slugs him on the back and shakes his hand.
Kevin is old enough to look like his dad did in photos
from Vietnam — same crooked smile and hazel eyes,
same barrel chest earned from digging fox holes.
Kevin spots me on the back porch and I sprint
down the groaning stairs to meet him on the path
between the house and the workshop.
He lifts me up above the blooming lilac tree
that coronates him with a halo of pollen until
he sparkles like a saint in a stained-glass window.
I smell the Marlboro’s on his shirt and see
the crow’s feet spread around his eyes when he
smiles at me from his spot on the ground.
I want to ask where he has been, but he already
knows and points to my heart and then to the Big Dipper,
and tells me to follow the headlights into the sky.
Christian Sammartino is the Editor-In-Chief of Rising Phoenix Review and the Managing Editor and Poetry Editor for L'Éphémère Review. He is currently studying Philosophy at West Chester University. His poetry is influenced by life in the Pennsylvania Rustbelt near his hometown of Coatesville. His work has appeared in Words Dance Publishing, Voicemail Poems, Eunoia Review, Thirteen Myna Birds, Sea Foam Mag, Yellow Chair Review and others. His first chapbook, Keystones, was released by Rising Phoenix Press in December 2014. You can find more of his work on his personal blog.