Young writers produce poems about memories and nature

Age 17, Chelsea
Published: 9/9/2019 10:00:10 PM

Young Writers Project is an independent nonprofit that engages students to write, helps them improve and connects them with authentic audiences in newspapers, before live audiences and online. YWP also publishes an annual anthology and The Voice, a digital magazine featuring YWP’s best writing and images. More info: or contact YWP at or 802-324-9538.

This week we present responses to: Cafeteria. Some school years have a distinct aroma — kindergarten might smell like glue sticks, second grade like lunchtime in the cafeteria, or eighth grade like a new book. These aromas can take you back to those times and places. Write about your own experience with certain years having their own special scents. And general writing.

Prompt: Cafeteria

Remembering the years

By Marina Sprague

Age 17, Chelsea

Kindergarten smelled like plastic and looked like chaos.

I remember playing with lots of toys.

First grade smelled like chalk and looked like confusion.

I remember the chalkboards filled with small words.

Second grade smelled like nature and looked like recess.

I remember running around the playground no matter the sun, rain, or snow.

Third grade smelled like something new and looked like exhaustion.

I remember climbing the extra steps to get to my new classroom.

Fourth grade smelled like scented pencils and looked like books.

I remember everyone had one of those pencils, while I had books.

Fifth grade smelled like paper and looked like Pokemon cards.

I remember having lots of homework and even more cards to trade.

Sixth grade smelled like rubber and looked like a long hallway.

Middle school was terrifying, with high schoolers only a few feet away.

Seventh grade smelled like a science lab and looked like frustration.

I may have failed some of those projects, but I fell in love with science anyway.

Eighth grade smelled like burning lights and looked like a stage.

An audition turned into the lead and lots of practicing.

Ninth grade smelled like metal lockers and looked like classrooms.

School, drama, soccer, repeat.

Tenth grade smelled like tears and looked like sadness.

I will always remember getting the news that the high school would be shutting down.

Eleventh grade smelled like home and looked like home.

Being homeschooled is a lot different.

Prompt: General writing


By Eloise Silver Van Meter

Age 17, Fairlee

All winter she had been waiting.

Waiting for the light to come, for the colors to fill her eyes.

She had dreamed of this moment,

heard stories, built subconscious expectations,

daydreamed about the day she would fall in love with her surroundings.

She had set goals for herself, compiled an itinerary for the season,

spent countless hours preparing herself

for what she imagined to be the beautiful birth

of an Earth that had been subdued by white sheets.

Though, now that she could smell the sweet air,

she found herself in fear.

She was afraid of the knowledge she would cultivate.

How odd it is that the birth of so many colors can act as a mirror —

a mirror that defines only the dark blues and violets within us.

She listened to her sorrows play their melody in her head

like merciless rulers, and she a helpless peasant against her restless mind.

Trees turned into flowers,

bushes turned into fruits.

Morning became midday, and night reflected off of golden skin, purple mountains, and metallic rivers.

She would watch the trees’ silhouettes as the sun would lower,

trying to pick out details.

She tried to create art that showcased the complexity of the view in front of her,

but she struggled to capture the landscape in all of its dimensions.

Soon her life was completely distorted —

non-important things were deemed important, and important things were deemed as givens.

There was a dissonance between her mind and body.

She was strung along by whomever she allowed, which was most people she encountered.

She wasn’t able to take ownership of her actions.

Until she saw the brutality the forest, the flower-trees, the fruit-bushes, the mountains all went through.

The rain from the storm made the air green, as if the spirits of the plants were being lifted to the sky, shedding their sufferings and regrets and allowing themselves to acknowledge defeat

as the rain hit them for hours on end, causing them to reflect on their overzealous start to the spring.

She finally looked at herself and was no longer afraid to learn from the plants,

because she knew that they too were alive and becoming.

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