People & Places

YWP: Bluebird song

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 youngwritersproject.org. For more information, please contact Susan Reid at [email protected].

This image by photographer Lauren McCabe, 15, of South Burlington took first place for visual arts in a creative contest promoting urgent action on climate change.

Climate change is a global problem that is also deeply personal. This week, we present our First Place (Gold) writing and visual art winners to this fall’s creative contest promoting urgent climate change action. Congratulations to photographer Lauren McCabe of South Burlington and poet Narges Anzali of Weybridge!

Bluebird song

First place, gold, by Narges Anzali, 16, of Weybridge

I.

I wish I hadn’t been born in the Age of Extinction,

I really don’t think my origami heart was made for this,

This list of things that disappeared into the folds long before I was 3, 4, 5,

How many last ones am I throwing in the trash?

How many last ones am I scraping on my tongue?

Where are the last papyrus makers in Egypt?

Where are the last speakers of my tongue?

II.

You didn’t know the spirits talk to me,

But they do. You don’t know that there is a ghost following me,

But there is. You ask me to define immigrant for a prompt in our English class

& I say someone who doesn’t need an English class. You ask me

To define broken in our English class & I say my butchered mother tongue.

Then we go read an article about a species we will never see,

A type of bluebird that I can’t remember the Latin name of,

And that seems important, because if I don’t remember the bluebird,

Then who does? If the Library of Alexandria hadn’t burned down,

Would I know another word for bluebirds, now?

If I didn’t spend so much time thinking about dead and dusty things,

Would I know another word for a lifetime, now?

Maybe the spirits know another word for bluebird and that’s why they keep showing up

In the reflection of my bathroom mirror.

III.

There are bones underneath the whole Earth

And yet we wonder why we are cursed.

We put bones into our cars and we wonder why we can’t breathe.

We put bones under our strip malls and wonder why people disappear into the trees.

You tell me back in Ohio there was a golf course built on a Native American burial ground.

I tell you that no one remembers what our traditional clothes look like now but my grandmother.

I was not built for the Age of Extinction.

I was not built for the Age of

Colonization &

Degradation &

Burned-out forests &

Dying languages &

Dying people &

Dying bluebirds.

IV.

I am watching the birds drop out of the sky

One by one by one.

I am watching the humans fall into the sea

One by one by one.

I wish that the last dodo hadn’t died long before I was born.

I wish there weren’t lists of all the beautiful things

The light will never reflect off of again.

My chest is filled with imaginary butterflies

That disappear before they see the light of the sun.

Our sky is filled with invisible poison

That never seems to leave our lungs.

V.

I wish I hadn’t been born in the Age of Extinction.

I wish these syllables didn’t trip clumsily off my tongue.

I wish the ghosts of dead things would stop haunting my sleep.

I wish I didn’t have a list of all of the things I’ll never see.

I wish every tendril of smoke didn’t remind me of this song,

Another bluebird gone,

Another bluebird gone,

Another bluebird gone.


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