The Tradition by Jericho Brown

Jericho Brown

Aster. Nasturtium. Delphinium. We thought
Fingers in dirt meant it was our dirt, learning
Names in heat, in elements classical
Philosophers said could change us. Star Gazer.
Foxglove. Summer seemed to bloom against the will
Of the sun, which news reports claimed flamed hotter
On this planet than when our dead fathers
Wiped sweat from their necks. Cosmos. Baby’s Breath.
Men like me and my brothers filmed what we
Planted for proof we existed before
Too late, sped the video to see blossoms
Brought in seconds, colors you expect in poems
Where the world ends, everything cut down.
John Crawford. Eric Garner. Mike Brown.

Jericho Brown won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his book The Tradition. In his poem of the same name, he reflects on the impact racism and climate change have on today’s youth, speeding up one’s childhood with fears of surviving the future.

Reflection: When you reflect on your childhood, what aspects of that environment and experience would you like for your children? What aspects would you like to be different for them?

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