An Intrusion of Alliums by Nicole Callihan

An Intrusion of Alliums

My husband says the yard is a reflection of the self, that it may be the only reflection of the self. He is sprinkling pelletized lime on the bluegrass. The neighbor waves from his split beech tree and then approaches. We ask about his wife’s dead mother. He says of the grief, though he doesn’t say grief, that it’s like trying to hold the ocean back with a broom. My husband tells him he can borrow the leaf blower later. After, I ask my daughter to do my hair. Will you do my hair?And she does. My mother always hated my hair, though now she “says” she loves it. When I finally got her in the same room as my father, they were like long lost best friends. They yucked and yoed. My stepmother, who was already losing her hearing, did her unnerving smile and nod. When my brother was around five, he said, Mom, can I have some money to go to the store? My mom reached into her pockets; my brother went to my stepmother. That’s how things were in the eighties: I’d call whoever my mother married, Dad, then after the divorces, I wouldn’t know what to call them. There weren’t yards then so much as carports. On the day I was dared to kiss Nathan Clark, a bull got onto the carport. Nathan’s tongue was oddly dry and very skinny, and then we were all like, oh shit, and we ran really fast back to our apartments. Eating Pop-Tarts, Ashley said, twenty-seven is the perfect age to get married. I thought, huh, okay, but I didn’t get married until I was thirty-something. The other day, this woman, Shelly, a real estate agent who was in the areola tattooing office with me showed me her boobs. She said, no one should get married until they’re in their thirties. I said, okay, I didn’t. She said her son is 62, and she still thinks of her lover who’d whisper in her ear in consecutive foreign languages. Her lover was younger and is now married with children and living outside of Paris. She said, look at you, you’re beautiful, you’re not even wearing makeup. I said, but I am. Lol. Just blush and mascara and a little bit of concealer and this stuff my thirteen-year-old gave me that plumps the lips. Later, I decided we should plant more things, wilder things, so I decided to ask the other neighbor, the hot one, what she’s got in her yard. That, she said, is a rising sun eastern redbud. Oh, I like it! And what are those? I asked. Those?! Those are aliens!

Nicole Callihan’s This Strange Garment will be published by Terrapin Books in 2023. Her other books include SuperLoop and the poetry chapbooks: The Deeply Flawed HumanDowntown, and ELSEWHERE (with Zoë Ryder White), as well as a novella, The Couples. Learn more at


Art: F. D. Richards from Clinton, MI, CC BY-SA 2.0


If you like Jellyfish Review, please please please support us with a donation. We want to pay our writers this year and need funds to make that happen.

Thank you!


Next: A Retelling of the Parable of the Two Sons by Rina Olsen

Previous: Hand on your nose by Augustine Okam


If you like this story, why not share it on social media and make a writer and a magazine very, very happy!