Rachelle Toarmino is a poet from Niagara Falls, New York. She is the author of the poetry collection That Ex and the chapbooks Comeback, Feel Royal, and Personal & Generic. Her poems and essays have appeared in American Poetry Review, Bennington Review, Electric Literature, ITERANT, Literary Hub, Poetry Daily, Salt Hill Journal, The Slowdown, and elsewhere. She is also the founding editor in chief of Peach Mag and an editorial advisor to Foundlings Press. She lives between Buffalo and Western Massachusetts, where she is an MFA candidate in poetry at UMass Amherst.
Flowers, Poems, Flower Poems
A woman I’ve never met sends me tulips from two states over.
There are things women know to do.
They sit on my desk next to the window. I love flowers
because they’re ordinary on one side
of the glass and a gift on the other. I keep them alive
to remember I can. There are things
women know how to do. Clipped and caged and I think
that’s beautiful. What could be more feminine
than dying a slow death and another creature calling it
beautiful. A hymn for every howl. It’s crazy
when you think about it. Whatever you call it
it’s the one thing that brings me back into myself,
dancing naked in the mirror and making faces in the glass.
I only ever wanted to make you feel my feeling.
You want to make me mad so you can call me mad
well I am mad. You knew who I was
when you spun me like a prom queen and I kept my eyes open.
I showed you my rotten nature. A woman
can spend her whole life spinning, arranging flowers
and I intend to. Not now but I’ve decided to die
like a tulip in March on the desk of a stranger and opening.
Sweet enough for you now? Still opening.
This poem originally appears in American Poetry Review (2021).