Explosion, 2021: A Post-In-Verse

The lilac bush
exploded this year
in a raucous purple fiesta.
It is one hundred years old,
stippled with lichen along its limbs,
and still it throws a bash. 

Last year, a late frost
crisped the buds to brown —
this year’s abundance
seemed an act of

The rain came.
The branches
splayed and sagged.
One of them
snapped like a brittle bone,
draping the gate in
an aromatic robe.

I too have seen a year
of explosion and of rain,
a year that fills the air
with a little too much

I have bent under the weight
of it all and
I am yet

Classrooms and writers
have mustered revenge. 
We have bloomed against the odds,
through a deep freeze in the dooryard,
and the keening of more than
three million souls.

We have picked at this wound
with pencil and paper,
with clickety-clacking keyboards
through masks, livestream, and distance.

We have taken branches
one hundred years old
and bent them, hard
against the weight of downpours.

Some limbs have snapped,
and some have turned into beautiful arches
through which tomorrow’s vine will climb.

Our eyes burn
with a new kind of tired
as we flash encouraging smiles
through our pupils, our cheeks chapped
with the sandpaper edges
of surgical masks we wear
as we excise errant commas.

These are our new acts of love for each other.

There is no rubric for this.

There is only the soil of
our care, the wind of
motivation ever shifting,
the unfurling leaves of discovery.
We must thrust
these small green palms
to the sun.

Explosion can be beautiful:

the folding of the old
stadium, orchestrated,
collapsing in on itself, the concrete ramps
we never thought could fall
clear planes for building new pillars

the sizzle of fireworks
overhead, the successes that
light up the dark, dark night,
fiery and ephemeral but emblazoned
in our brains, echoing
in our eardrums.

Don’t send me cliches:
what doesn’t kill you . . .
in every life some rain . . .

Give me a lilac bush,
boisterous with hope.

Point to it.

Tell me:
“This year – I see it –
you have been like that.”

My backyard lilac bush that inspired this poem, Spring 2021

What’s your year-end reflection in verse?! Share it on Twitter by 6/6, tag @MovingWriters and @theVogelman, and we’ll put your name in a hat to win a copy of A Teacher’s Guide to Mentor Texts!

What pedagogical explosions this year have challenged you to look to the future with hope? What elements of nature have sustained you through an utterly exhausting year of teaching? How might your students benefit from wrapping up their year in verse?

You can connect with me on Twitter @theVogelman or engage on Facebook at facebook.com/movingwriters to continue the conversation.  

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  1. This is just the right post for me today, “There is no rubric for this…boisterous with hope.” Thanks, Brett. (People CAN defy all odds; it’s in their nature.)

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