by Tara Powell

          Philodendron has clambered out of every vase and jar I own, stepping over the counters, around the books, between the
          sheets; wax green vines run over the carpet, leave patterns in the shag, are breaking up the bricks in the fireplace;

                  no one would take my cuttings and now I couldn’t part with them without losing my home, as the roots keep on their
                  lovely snarling, hunkering down in the chairs, running along the baseboards; the wallpaper is afraid.

There’s no fearing all this growing, though–in fact, I’ve been having good dreams, all dark, wet jungle dreams, sleeping mostly on the couch, watching the waxy hands clasp over the television and windows, consummate what they began sleeping in my bed and bathing in my tub, burning my candles and swilling my wine.

                          Sometimes, I reach through the jungle and twist on the shower, drench the room in steam
                          until the ceiling rains, until we feel clean.

                                  There are philodendron on my ankles, shackling me in–they were there when I woke up this morning, their
                                  gentle tugging turning me aside from my quest to get the morning paper; hugging my arms, they had the door
                                  closed and bolted; already they are rooting thick, insistent veins, eating up the wood like palmprints; the door
                                  was never there.

                  I like the way they follow me around the house, toss me arbitrarily down the stairs, bend me backwards over the
                  kitchen table, wrap my eyes and rope living through my teeth until I can stop screaming and listen to my own small
                  heart wrapping the unlit still–

          I am sucking steam for breakfast, now; the mirrors are afraid.

Tara Powell is the Hugh McColl Fellow in Southern Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she is a Ph.D. candidate in English.  Some of the publications in which her poetry has appeared include Asheville Poetry Review, Blue Unicorn, Cold Mountain Review, Crucible, Hidden Oak, Pembroke Magazine, South Carolina Review, and Southern Poetry Review.  She wrote a monthly column for the Raleigh News and Observer from February 2001 to August 2002, edited The Carolina Quarterly from May 2002 to August 2003, and has read her creative work by invitation at a variety of conferences.

Tara Powell was nominated for Poets Under 30 by Michael McFee.