Aquarius sloshed me to earth from her clay pots,
poured me out into the rustbelt with September rain,
and leftover wash water as a parachute.
Mother found me while beachcombing for quartz
on the banks of the Brandywine River,
snared in a net of pretty but useless things.
I was her freshwater pearl, precious
but in need of polishing—she took me into her womb,
nurtured me to be greater than the sum of my parts.
She absorbed everything she could
through the eyes of hurricanes, and the funnel clouds
of tornadoes, and siphoned them into my body.
My mother drank ladles full of runoff water
from the rain barrels on our front porch,
guzzled tin cups of water from the gullies,
stood in the middle of our dead end street
with her arms outstretched during states of emergency,
mouth open, absorbing rain like the Grand Canyon.
My birth was a monsoon season, plagued by thunderstorms,
torrential tantrums flooding through my mother’s uterus—
build your boat and wait for the waves Biblical.
I arrived without an ark or an olive branch,
no dove to search for dry land—instead my heart
was a tempest in a clay pot, murmuring love.
With all the knowledge she gained of waterways
through curiosity and wanderlust, she raised me
as the child of the water bearer.
With her wisdom she taught me how to nurture
wheat fields into flourishing, full harvests,
and how to coax corn into a cathedral.
Water is the ballad of my blood,
rapid like the swollen Susquehanna
whooshing across Pennsylvania.
The language of my lips is a gentle thirst,
like a drought-deprived creek bed, humble,
always with at least one final word of kindness.
My body speaks in undulating ripples,
like the ones on the surface of Lake Erie
when wind carries snow to surrounding towns.
If you lay your head on my chest, I swear
you will hear the churning of cargo ships
and a maelstrom swallowing them whole.
I am my mother’s son—a hurricane warning in a body
yearning to shower the world in compassion.
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, Voicemail Poems, Lehigh Valley Vanguard, Ghost City Review, Sea Foam Mag, Thirteen Myna Birds, Yellow Chair Review and others. He was a Resident Poet for Lehigh Valley Vanguard during the summer of 2015. His first chapbook, Keystones, was released by Rising Phoenix Press in December 2014.