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But That There Are Tulips

in Coronavirus by

And beside the kosher salt, fresh water to place them in.
A few hundred miles south, they grow from the ground

while here I grow, too. See what springs out of my head.
Like the spikes Jane dreamed coming from her own head.

That the tulips have heads. And these petals have fallen.
I will carefully sweep the fallen petals into the dustpan.

In the basement, I have stored bleach, rice, and lentils,
boxes of tissues, Tylenol, three kinds of flu medicine,

enough pasta to feed all the mouths, enough sanitizer
to clean all twelve of the hands under this roof.

But that we did not think ahead to plant a garden
of fresh things to eat. But that there are tulips with heads

in a glass vase on the marble counter and salt to clean
the water if the water needs cleaned, and fresh fish,

caught and frozen, and some tinned too. Remain calm,
says the voice in the radio. In the evening light,

we take turns swapping the blindfold. I say,
it’s not even spring yet. He says, Yes, but already

the tulips are dead. Already they’re nodding their heads.



Nicole Callihan writes poems and stories. Her poems have appeared in PEN America, Copper Nickel, Tin House, and American Poetry Review. Her latest project, a collaboration with Zoë Ryder White, won the 2019 Sixth Finch Chapbook Prize, and is now available.

Photo by Michelle Orallo.


WHO declares novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic

D.C. declares state of emergency as officials say ‘non-essential mass gatherings’ should be canceled or postponed
[Washington Post]