By Lisa J. Sullivan, MFA ’16
Poetry Instructor at the Plymouth Center for the Arts, Poetry Editor for Pink Panther Magazine,
Associate Poetry Editor for Lily Poetry Review Books
For the Graduating Class of 2020, Pine Manor College
Tassels traded for face masks.
Podium rests backstage, empty
lectern upon it. Graduates,
to their backyards, where even
in the heat, their breath
ghosts in the false dawn.
Isolation can do strange things:
Some vanish into themselves,
become dormant as winter branches.
Some take to the ocean bluffs,
sit so close to the edge, they
feel the spindrift mist their faces.
Some let their hair grow long.
When uncertainty clings to us
like redwood bark, we recognize
the familiar: a darning needle stitching
Queen Anne’s lace, an airplane’s
contrail cutting a tangerine sky,
a loved one humming while cooking
jambalaya, a grandfather teaching
a grandson how to fish.
And closer still, that which
nothing can take away—a diploma
on the mantle, on the desk,
or nestled in the top dresser
drawer, reminding us again
and again, that winter branches
They always bloom.
By Lisa J. Sullivan, © 2020