The Philodendron

BY Susan V. Meyers

After a period of nothinga presence.
One afternoon, six slow buds
at once. Six split chili spines.

Six red waxy hearts. The stem, in chorus,
begins to bleed: sugar beads bursting
through skin. Like confetti or diamonds.

The sweet-sudden ritual of arrival.
And because they are edible, temporary,
you scrape and suck all you can find: these gifts

from a plant that opens once a year
for an hour. An eruption more red than flower.
More promise than exposure. Now it turns.

Shuts. Reclaims the things that belong to it.
And pulls back into itself, the way
failed bone grafts absorb back into skin.


Then the room is thick with absence
Absence swelling the folds of curtains like wind.
Dripping like bats from lampshades.

Books fall open on shelves: blank page after blank page.
And suddenly, your life hits you. Passes through you.
Like the startled air that breakspartsfor an unexpected train.


A Seattle native, Susan V. Meyers has lived and taught in Chile, Costa Rica, and Mexico. She earned an MFA from the University of Minnesota and a PhD from the University of Arizona, and she currently teaches at Oregon State University. Her work has recently appeared in Calyx, The Minnesota Review, Rosebud, and Dogwood, and it has been the recipient of several awards, most recently a Fulbright Fellowship.