Virgo Learns to Feed the Hungry

by walking into an empty field and lying down
to watch constellations for clues about the origins
of famine and the patience required to fill many silos.

And he plants his brain in the dirt of ruined farms,
with their dilapidated barns and rusted wagons
and he absorbs the muscle memory of growth.

Hands rubbed raw by hours of digging and plowing,
necks that burn with the red wedding ring of the sun,
from bending towards the earth and sewing seeds like vows.

And he hears the music of aching joints that reveal
bodies at work, mucking stalls and fertilizing fields,
squatting on stools to milk herds of cows.

Virgo learns to crumble his torso into sacrifice
and scatter it across the fields as an offering,
an omen of labor, an oath to end scarcity.

No one can tell where he ends and the fields begin.

Virgo learns what it means to love something
so completely that his wounded and calloused places
are husked by a pair of invisible hands

and his joy blossoms across the landscape
like many rows of corn ripening after a drought,
the first tender words uttered by one lover to another,

until a joyous harvest is visible on every hillside.
As if to say, lover, all suffering transforms into fruit.
I prostrate myself before the majesty of creation.

Every part of my being is an overture to this work,
a testimonial of communing with you. I am full
with your song, I sway with your music.

I will teach every field and hill to sing.

Make me an instrument of your spirituals,
like the trembling harnesses of the mule team
as they compose the harmony of tilled earth.

Sadness is not heavy on my tongue anymore.
I know how the miracle of the seed enters broken places.
How the root compels each lost thing to rise from its tomb

and become a kingdom of fullness with an appetite
for stuffing the empty bread baskets of neighbors.
Even if they cannot work, they will be given plenty.

Lover, the table is ready with what grew from my body.
Ring the dinner bell in every barn and every bell tower.
Watch the people rejoice as they gather for supper.

Come to me with the rhapsody of your rumbling stomachs
and the shadows of your ribs peeking through your skin
like many bleak winters of empty cupboard shelves.

The fruit of this jubilee seasons belongs to all.
Eat from the open almanacs of my hands and
become one people unified by this feast.

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.

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