Rachelle Toarmino

Rachelle Toarmino is a poet from Niagara Falls, New York. She is the author of the poetry collection That Ex and the chapbooks ComebackFeel Royal, and Personal & Generic. Her poems and essays have appeared in American Poetry ReviewBennington ReviewElectric LiteratureITERANTLiterary HubPoetry DailySalt Hill JournalThe 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).