End Sheet: Poetry

"Spring Procession" by Didi Jackson, assistant professor of English

Vanderbilt University Commencement 05/12/23. Photo by Joe Howell. A close-up of the Vanderbilt Sesquicentennial charm on the tassel of a graduate's mortarboard with another graduate seen in hazy focus behind.
Photo by Joe Howell

i. (new)

It is spring after all,
the dogwoods have opened
their buds like small firecrackers
lighting the understory
of some of the tallest trees.
I know the sun will touch
their petals just enough
for a slight glow
in the early morning. Cold days
are finally behind us, though a frost
or two can still slip into
this new humming season.
Smells of wet bark and cut grass
try to hush the mockingbird
who cannot help himself,
his song a column of mastery,
something to lean against
in times such as these.
He is the patron saint
of hope, to which we pray
to see the daffodils’
golden trumpets pressing skyward
announcing a new day
with new strength and new thoughts.


ii. (procession)

A procession of days that get longer
and longer. A procession of crows who gather
on the peaks of buildings hundreds
of years old. A procession of light in the city’s
skyline. A procession of prayers
lifted for those suffering. A procession
of white hair for those for whom life
has wizened. A procession of hands
coming together. A procession of knowledge.
A procession of tanks and guns and rubble,
of ultimatums and invasions. A procession
of eyes soaring to the September elm’s crown.
A procession of bell ringing.
A procession of hands dug deep
into pockets like two frightened birds.
A procession of hands flailing with joy,
open like stars, lifted eye level or higher.
A procession of magnolia trees, branches
so heavy the earth supports their weight.
A procession of leaves green and polished
like patent leather purses. A procession of crossed
legs. A procession of leadership. A procession
of honor. A procession of chicory and sparrows.
A procession of bee balm, lemon mint,
blue bell, and trillium. A procession of gratitude.
A procession of handshakes. A procession of past.
A procession of open sky. A procession of future.


B/W author shot of Didi Jackson

Didi Jackson, assistant professor of English, is the author of Moon Jar (Red Hen Press, 2020) and the forthcoming collection My Infinity. “Spring Procession” was read at the university’s Sesquicentennial celebration in March.