Alison Jarvis

February Elegy with Tulips on a Glass Table
June 22, 2021 Jarvis Alison

February Elegy with Tulips on a Glass Table


It’s the yellow dust inside the tulips.
It’s the shape of a tulip.

James Schuyler



There’s no controlling them — even cut, they grow,
even cut, they keep turning, they swoon


over the lip of the vase —  petals closed, petals
splayed, or falling, edges sunset


insides still on fire.
Three are hands and I name them:


Beseecher, Beggar, Supplicant,
over there is a mouth, a little open,


the long vowel in only. Only one
is standing straight, the last sentence


in a book you can’t bear to finish.
He is the yellow dust


blanketing a glass table whereon
stands a row of his cello bridges —


cowboys with bowed legs
and carved-out hearts fixed


to a drift of wood. And next to it
a black stone, ovoid, worked flat


by water, oiled by our fingers,
a perfect fit


for the palm. A hummingbird
still lives in his binoculars.


This is a made place —
but isn’t the mind an archive?


Isn’t the body? Think of the hummingbird —
think of my heart — how it beats


1200 times a minute.

Alison Jarvis received the Gerald Cable Award for her book Where is North, the Lyric Poetry Award from the Poetry Society of America, and the Guy Owen Award from Southern Poetry Review. She is a psychotherapist in private practice in New York City.