Writers Share Poetry and a Surprise

Each week, Young Writers Project receives several hundred submissions from students in Vermont and New Hampshire in response to writing prompts and selects the best for publication here and in 21 other newspapers and on vpr.net. This week, we publish responses to the prompts, Photo 8 (Kayla Rideout/Essex (Vt.) High School); and Surprising: Interview someone you know and have them tell you a story you’ve never heard. Read more at youngwritersproject.org.

Prompt: Photo 8

She’s running for the sun

and she may never come back home. 

He stole her heart and kissed her once

then left her all alone.

Now all that’s left is just a shell,

her whole wide world is gone.

She’s running for the sun

and she may never come back home.


He swore he’d never leave her,

yet where has he gone now?

He flew away on wings of pain

and left her in this town.

She’s lost, alone, and no one knows

how far she’s fallen down.

He swore he’d never leave her, 

yet where has he gone now?


She held his hand, feet in the sand,

the sun their only spy.

He gave her flowers, they lived for hours, 

but soon began to die.

If only she had stopped to see

their death was just a sign

while she held his hand, feet in the sand,

the sun their only spy.


The sun’s the only thing that’s left

of the love that they had known.

She may forgive, but not forget

how he’d so suddenly flown.

And she watches as the sun does set

and leaves her all alone.

Now she’s running for the sun 

and she may never come back home.

Running free

The wind flowing as if I’m not there

Grasping my sweater

So it doesn’t flow away

The sun setting as I run

Down the empty road

The birds crowing

The squirrels jumping

The trees swaying

As I run, the water from the earlier rain

Hits my back but I keep running

Running and running

To see my father again

The  pavement  is  wet  beneath  my  feet

Last  night’s  rain  had  made  it  so

Mother’s  scarf  behind  me

I’ll never let it go 

Sun  shines  on  in  front  of  me

The  moon  is  in  the  back

They’ll  be  expecting  me  home  now

Better  be  heading  back

Woods  on  either  side

Black  in  the  fading  light

Sun’ll  set  in  minutes

Sun’ll  set  tonight

The  blue  sky  is  fading

Now  into  the  night

Clouds’ll  gather  here

Rain’ll  come  tonight

Mama  in  the  distance

Calling  me  home

Sees  her  scarf  behind  me

Bringing  the  night  home


Prompt: Surprising

In 1985, Kate Williams, a nursing student at The University of Vermont, had to interview a patient at Fletcher Allen Health Care, to meet a requirement. The professor wanted the students to go in without any prior knowledge of the patient so that they could gather that information on their own. They were required to ask questions such as “How is your hospitalization going? Do you need anything?” They were questions to help them learn how to interact with patients.

The first patient that Kate had to interview was Mary, a 78-year-old female. She remembers the room being cold and full of durable medical equipment (walkers, wheelchairs, etc.). Mary was propped up with comfortable pillows, and Kate was wearing regular street clothes with a white lab coat. They didn’t even need to have stethoscopes on hand; it was just a simple interview.

But for Kate, this interview turned out to be so much more. Mary was diabetic and had just had her second leg amputated. At first it was a great shock to Kate. She remembers thinking, “Oh my God. She lost her other leg!” There were so many feelings going through her head at that moment.

Normally Kate prided herself in how she was able to talk to anyone about anything and be very open, but for what seemed like the longest three seconds of her life, she was silent and stunned. It was hard for her to control all of her emotions. This woman had just lost both of her legs to a disease and would be wheelchair-bound for the rest of her life. The first thing she said to Mary was, “I am so sorry this happened and you had to have your other leg removed.”

Mary seemed to be coping better than Kate was at the time. She simply replied, “Well it was bound to happen, I got the sugar diabetes. I’m used to it. I had the other one done.” The patient had a lot of support from home and was very excited to be going back soon but had worries about phantom pains, which usually come with amputations.

 After the interview was over, Kate went to her professor and asked if it would be inappropriate if she got Mary some flowers. She felt she had to get Mary something and make her happy. Her professor thought it was fine, and Kate bought some yellow Gerber daisies. The act of giving flowers to Mary was a way for Kate to accept what had happened and be able to move on from the tragic result of Mary’s diabetes. Mary helped take care of Kate by being accepting and caring towards her. The patient let Kate process it all in her own way. At that moment, the patient was the teacher.  

All Kate could feel with this case was pity, sorrow, disbelief and grief. This interview really struck a chord with her. This woman had stopped her in her tracks and made her learn how to feel compassion and how patients with diseases such as Mary’s move forward in life. In Kate’s mind, having both of your legs amputated was probably the worst thing that could happen to anyone.

Mary was an independent woman struggling with a serious disease, but she was still optimistic. Now, a nurse of 25 years, Kate has seen tragic situations that have shown her that even through the most tragic events, the human mind, body, and spirit can recover. Kate’s first interview turned out to be a powerful and meaningful experience. She was not prepared for the magnitude of meaning a double amputee would bring, but it helped her become a better nurse. 

About the Project

Young Writers Project is an independent nonprofit that engages students to write, helps them improve and connects them with audiences through the Newspaper Series (and youngwritersproject.org) and the Schools Project (ywpschools.net). Support: YWP is supported by this newspaper and foundations, businesses and individuals who recognize the power and value of writing. If you would like to contribute, go to youngwritersproject.org/support, or mail your donation to YWP, 12 North St., Suite 8, Burlington, VT 05401.

Prompt: Outrageous. Write a story that begins, This is the funniest story I’ve ever heard…Alternate: Thirty-five. You wake up and you are suddenly 35 years old. What is your life like now? Due March 15.