Juxtaposition of Can & Cannot

Samantha Lull, English teacher

We cannot touch, but we can still touch

our grandparents as we teach them how to use Zoom; 

show them our faces; Granddad reaches out to

the dark black dot of a camera on his laptop,

as if that will get him closer to me. 

My! How much we’ve grown since Thanksgiving.


We cannot hold hands, but we can reach out.

We overcome that sense of anxiety, 

that feeling of awkwardness—vulnerability in disguise—

to text a friend who’s mentioned he’s struggling.

We email our students who despise being home. 

We call—actually call—our aunt who, at the end of the day,

just wants to shoot the breeze and listen to you

recall the events of your monotonous Tuesday.


We cannot share, but we can still share

a video of a college acceptance, 

a photo of a sonogram of my niece, 

a song that soothes a breakup,

a brag board about a teacher I love.


We cannot hug, but we can embrace

this loneliness, this solitude, this space.

We can claim this as our own.

We can embrace the bravery 

it takes for us to just be still. 

We can embrace a certain sense of gratitude 

for the rest we deeply deserve. 

Just a moment ago

Panelope Panzer, Chemistry teacher and Westfield parent 

Just a moment ago

We were sitting in kiss n ride.

You were grabbing your lunch,

Your backpack, and

Some words of encouragement to “make good choices. Have a good day!”


Just a moment ago

You were standing at the bus stop.

You were eating a once warm toaster French toast stick,

Wearing a hoodie in the freezing rain,

Remembering about some forgotten homework.

Just a moment ago

We were at our first Westfield football game.

You sat in the Dog Pound –

Acting like you weren’t watching the seniors,

Parents sat by and acted like they weren’t watching you.


Just a moment ago

You sat six feet apart and took tests.

You took SOLs that counted…for something,

The PSATs that counted…for nothing,

And the SATs that counted…for everything.

Just a moment ago

You were “behind the wheel.”

You were paying attention,

Not texting,

And still having your first fender bender.


Just a moment ago

You were participating.

You were involved.

States, Districts, Cappies,

Honors and medals!

You were at school.

You were planning senior pranks and skip days.

Applying for scholarships and jobs.

Buying dresses and renting tuxedos.


Just a moment ago

It all came to a…


IN just a moment.


You WILL be in your next chapter –

Making new choices,

Accomplishing new skills,

Making all your amazing moments happen.


Here is to your future moments, Class of 2020!