Autumn Sky Poetry . . . Number 18 . . .

Surgeon Finds Tree Growing in Man's Lung

     by Laura Sobbott Ross

First there was the cough, then the dream—

a rumbling through his diaphragm, throat dilated,

raw as if scraped with bark, the soft corners

of his mouth splitting like a seed coat.

His sinuses so full of green needles,

his sheets smelled like fir for days.

He began to disdain clouds and blinds,

the pearl colored cave of Russian winter sky.

Here, it was not unusual to lack vitamin D,

but, oh, the craving for sun! How it burned,

as his fingertips tingled and itched for river silt

buried beneath the snow clotted valley.

His cough grew in the humid bog

of his lungs, until he was blotting blood

from his lips, an essence aromatic

as rosemary on the back of his tongue,

despite lozenges of honey and eucalyptus.

Inside his chest, between bruised air sacs,

slashed webs of capillaries, doctors found

a shadow with teeth, a clawing of roots into tissue

lush as peat moss, while he lay at the window,

almost breathless with pain. His eyes transfixed

beyond the amassed evergreen edge, taiga,

tundra, permafrost, whiteness upon whiteness.

Snow clouds heavy with winged seed,

the same air he had once inhaled like a forest.


Laura Sobbott Ross’ poetry appears or is forthcoming in The Florida Review, Valparaiso Review, Calyx, The Cold Mountain Review, Natural Bridge, Tar River Poetry, and The Columbia Review, among many others. She has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize, and was named a finalist in the Creekwalker Poetry Prize.


© 2010 Laura Sobbott Ross