There are a lot of crazy images in "Tulips." Some are just apt poetic descriptions, like the nurses turning into seagulls. But many others are just plain strange. And most of those odd images have to do with the tulips. When the speaker starts talking about them, her images seem like they are coming out of some awful nightmare. We can't help but wonder what state of mind our speaker is in, and whether she's even in touch with reality anymore. Of course it's possible that she just has a very overactive imagination. Either way, reality is slippery in this poem – that much is for sure.
The speaker of the poem straddles the line between metaphorical imagery and hallucination, forcing the reader to question his or her assumptions about reality.
The narrator of "Tulips" goes through a complete mental breakdown. By tracking the changes in her imagery, the reader can watch her lose touch with reality and succumb to total psychosis.