This is Not About Us (It’s Just About Desire and The Plague) By RK Fauth

This is Not About Us (It’s Just About Desire and The Plague)

More than a crisis, a phenomenon is how
scholars describe the bubonic
craze that made the Dutch
desire, more than
anything, a tulip

There were flower auctions and
commissioned portraits of bulbs,
certain bulbs worth thousands of seventeenth-century coins

Bulb-like symptoms
developed in certain parts of the body,
round nodules in the armpits or groin, for example, but also
intolerance to light, pain in the back and limbs,
sleeplessness, apathy, and delirium—

But in this version of   modernity,
in the floral department
of Trader Joe’s, I keep
my hands, my saliva, and
this bit of trivia to myself

Because we are running out of money
and because your mind needs a speedometer,
I want to say, you look pretty even in a mask
tightened by safety pins in the back of your head

To purchase means to buy, or
to get a grip on—to want to consume—

Tulpenmanie. They say it was like
a fever inside
an era of fever—

I want to tell you, but you’ve gone
worrying down some other aisle. And I am pushing
a shopping cart of baby’s breath, the color of plums

This poem previously appeared in POETRY.

By RK Fauth


RK Fauth’s poetry and literary nonfiction have been recognized and published by The Spring Creek Project, The Revolution (Relaunch), the Fulbright Korea Infusion, Georgetown University’s Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice, and others. She recently received a Global Medieval Studies Award for Academic Excellence for the Unprecedented Project, a public poetry experiment that circulates blackout poems through the mail.

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