Woman in Hibernation

by Tara Powell

Snow has bent the trees in robes to kiss the streets
like disciples who mark the marvel of its passing.
Broken to piney angles, the genuflecting boughs
blanket and obscure the storm path,
grasp eyeless at its hems.

Three days in, I am still not here
among the jumbling radios,
the television, mincing, unprovoking,
but I am sleeping it all off, cocooned
in rumpled pajamas and mismatched socks
in my bed dented with the horror of my shape,
some hungry, sleepy monster-woman,
hungover with need and fear.

The object of my appetite has etched curls
and milk marble eyes,
a lilting tenor that punctuates
conversation with affirmations,
and like most new lovers,
it seems all who came before
were poor castings of him.

Loving him, I feel exposed.
Like the cold crystals to the late afternoons,
when the moon and sun both are pushing
back the clouds with need.

All these days, I have embraced the secret
of his strangeness. With the thaw,
he will be at my door,
his smile to me like sun on snow,
his affection beading on me,
though the chills of nights, each dropped degree,
have left ice beneath;
his arms will skid about me, clumsy as tires;
their heat will break us, one or the other.

Here, before the thaw,
I see nothing blighted and nothing rising again
from the deep, white wonder of it all.
Heavenly Father, stretch these frosted days to thousands,
this sleep to an endless dream!
These voices, all a copy of his own,
keep them without the stillness,
a loud, blinding, and bright igloo.

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.