“The Worth of Tulips” by Robin Kinzer

Previously published in Little Patuxtent Review

For Kathleen “Kat” Ann Murray

The first time we kissed was in a filthy
bathroom stall in uptown Manhattan.
Men in overpriced three-piece suits
had been buying us martinis all night long,
so finally, you arched your exquisite left eyebrow,
and excused us to the bathroom. You pushed
me into the stall, said: If I don’t do this now,
I’ll never do it.
Your tongue swept through my mouth
like a carousel come undone, and the wreckage was entire.
After we kissed, we snorted thick lines
of bitter powder through pink cocktail straws.
You used your driver’s license to chop precise
chalky rows onto the stark white of the toilet tank.
It was my first time, but you had been around
just about every block a city could dream of.

We missed the commuter train to campus,
and had to take a fifty dollar taxi ride.
On the way back, you laid your head on my lap,
and I ran my fingers through the loose coils
of your purple hair. You smelled like vanilla, the scent
waltzing through my veins. You sighed once, softly.
That night, we slept folded together like origami,
tucked into my tiny dorm room bed. It was later

cocaine became heroin. It was later
you were legally dead for four minutes.
It was later you dropped down to sixty-nine pounds.

It was November 2nd, 2015 we lost you for good.

Six years past, and I’ve been reading your sister’s messages
on your memoriam website. She says she doesn’t know
how to live without you. She says she’s angry.
She says she’s drowning. She says your tulips are
blooming this year— sunburnt oranges and furious reds.

Robin Kinzer (She/her)
Robin Kinzer is a queer, disabled poet and memoirist. She is an MFA candidate at University of Baltimore. Robin has poems recently published, or shortly forthcoming, in Kissing Dynamite, Wrongdoing Magazine, fifth wheel press, Corporeal Lit, Defunkt MagazineIce Queen Magazine, and others. Her short memoir, “Onion Grass in February,” recently won second prize in Blood Orange Review‘s Emerging Writers Contest. She is a poetry editor for the winnow magazine and will also be taking over as the poetry editor for The Broadkill Review in 2023. She loves glitter, Ferris wheels, waterfalls, and radical kindness. She can be found on Twitter @RobinAKinzer and at www.robinkinzer.com.