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A. E. Stallings

The tulips make me want to paint,
Something about the way they drop
Their petals on the tabletop
And do not wilt so much as faint,
Something about their burnt-out hearts,
Something about their pallid stems
Wearing decay like diadems,
Parading finishes like starts,
Something about the way they twist
As if to catch the last applause,
And drink the moment through long straws,
And how, tomorrow, they’ll be missed.
The way they’re somehow getting clearer,
The tulips make me want to see
The tulips make the other me
(The backwards one who’s in the mirror,
The one who can’t tell left from right),
Glance now over the wrong shoulder
To watch them get a little older
And give themselves up to the light.
From Olives (Northwestern University Press, 2012).
This poem first appeared in Poetry (June 2009).

Used here with the author’s permission.

Daughter of a university professor and a librarian, Alicia Elsbeth Stallings gained an awareness of reading and writing at an early age. Fond of William Blake and T.S. Eliot (though she says A. E. Housman is her favorite poet), she began publishing poems while still in high school. A fan of classical myths and fairy tales, Alicia has established a reputation as a formalist; she is the author of two award-winning books and a Latin verse translation. Raised in Decatur, Georgia, she and her husband, John Psaropoulos, moved to Greece in 1999, where Alicia is program director for the Athens Centre and he is editor of the Athens News.


Post New Comment:
Joe Sottile:
Great ending!
Posted 04/13/2012 10:33 AM
Linda Lee Konichek:
I worried over my tulips last night, but brave souls that they are, they're still with me today. I love my flowers in the spring! Neat poem!
Posted 04/12/2012 01:45 PM
Wow! I always look forward to reading your work. Phyllis
Posted 04/12/2012 11:32 AM
Glen Sorestad:
An absolutely beautiful portrayal of tulips, Alicia. I love the O-so-apt 'burnt-out hearts".
Posted 04/12/2012 10:08 AM
Marilyn L Taylor:
Alicia's work never falls to knock me out. What a perfectly marvelous poem.
Posted 04/12/2012 07:06 AM
Also an astute horticulturist with a reflective bent. Lovely. Thank you.
Posted 04/12/2012 06:44 AM

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