Wednesday 26 October 2022

What’s Something You Love That Can’t Love You Back?

by Katie Manning

I fell in love with tulips in a book about Disneyland. Kids
clicked their wooden shoes while sitting on tulip seats. My
mom drew these flowers often: little bowls topped with three-
pointed crowns that smelled of crayons. When my spouse
first bought me a bouquet of tulips, I realized I’d never seen
real ones—firm stems and leaves, strong green scent. Now,
I have seen them spring back from a death droop with just
a drink of water. But the tulips cannot love me back, can’t hold
my weight while I sing and keep time with my feet, can’t cross
the chasm between what I learned as a child and what is real.

* * * * *

Katie Manning is the founding editor-in-chief of Whale Road Review and a professor of writing at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. She is the author of Tasty Other, which won the 2016 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award, and her sixth chapbook is How to Play (Louisiana Literature Press, 2022). Her poems have appeared in American Journal of Nursing, december, The Lascaux Review, New Letters, Poet Lore, and many other venues, and her poem “What to Expect” was featured on the Poetry Unbound podcast from The On Being Project. Find her online at

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