People & Places

YWP: Here in This Forest

Young Writers Project, an independent nonprofit based in Burlington, engages young people to write and use digital media to express themselves with clarity and power, and to gain confidence and skills for school, the workplace and life.

Check out the most recent issue of The Voice, Young Writers Project’s monthly digital magazine. Click here.

Each week, VTDigger features a writing submission – an essay, poem, fiction or nonfiction – accompanied by a photo or illustration from Young Writers Project.

YWP publishes about 1,000 students’ work each year here, in newspapers across Vermont, on Vermont Public Radio and in YWP’s monthly digital magazine, The Voice. Since 2006, it has offered young people a place to write, share their photos, art, audio and video, and to explore and connect online at For more information, please contact Susan Reid at [email protected].

Young Writers Project Media Library, art by Leah Vo.

Mother Nature may be a mercurial woman prone to the raging fits of lightning and quakes, but she also shows her sweet side when she invites us to her favorite bucolic nooks. This week’s featured writer, Elise Cournoyer of Richmond, returns to her private home-away-from-home to expel the flurried troubles of the day and inhale the pine-soaked beauty of the present.

Here in This Forest

By Elise Cournoyer, 13, of Richmond

Winding up a short path blanketed in pink-orange pine needles,
beams of shadow dancing across their fragile surfaces in the misty sunset.
Into the shallows of green life where at first glance,
each sprout bristles, and trees appear flawlessly the same.

But there's that one in the distance that my fatigued eyes of hazel
always incline toward, until the apprehensive tension of wondering
if I'll find it this time settles into this serene surety.

With everlasting green needles high above and a wide, scalloped trunk
and a little dent in the ground where I've spent hours
gazing at the trickling flakes of snow on leaves
and the winks of the petite bluets and zinnias that soak up the sun.

The never-ending layers of homework and relationships and
you and me and her and him and them and tomorrow and yesterday
catch a ride on each soft wisp of breath I offer before dispersing into the ether
on wispy strings of fluttering wings and freshwater springs, here in this forest.

Here with this everlasting pine is just the one place where I can
let everything go and embrace the present, and in return I can just be.

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