Life & Culture

Young Writers Project: January silence

Young Writers Project is a creative online community of teen writers, photographers, and artists, based in Vermont since 2006. Each week, VTDigger features the writing and art of young Vermonters who publish their work on, a free, interactive website for youth 12-18 years old. To find out more, visit, or contact Executive Director Susan Reid at; 802-324-9538.

“Ice Castles,” by Amelia Van Driesche, 16, of Burlington.

We put a lot of faith in the New Year: We hold an expectation that the better habits and better selves we strive for will be more easily obtainable, and hope peace and prosperity for the world at large. When January doesn’t deliver at once, it’s difficult not to deflate. This week’s featured poet, Elise Cournoyer of Richmond, personifies the month as a woman burdened by the lumbering weight of our need for a brighter future.

January silence

By Elise Cournoyer, 13, of Richmond

I think the weather is lost.
When she walks, she trips over something the rest of us can't see, 
something that makes her crumple to the ground.
When she walks, she only falls to that ground, her ghastly mouth stretching into a silent “O”... 
because what good do words do, really?

When she speaks, her tone is unfamiliar. Fragmented, it is full of pain, raspy and hoarse, 
clinging onto the cold from months ago.
When she speaks, her voice is blanketed in longing so strong you can smell it. January's job is heavy: 
She must release the past.

When she laughs, she is dreaming the whole time like Dorothy, tumbling through a memory of 2022. Blissfully unaware of reality.
When she laughs, the whole world laughs along too, although ridden of context, 
because if 2023's January can laugh, can't they?

When she sleeps, her dreams are full of forked pathways holding the whole year's fate –  
to love or to hate? To stand or to wait?
When she sleeps, her snores remind her of a resented time months ago. Now, 
she would give anything to cradle it for just a second.

January doesn't have much, other than a thousand tons weighting her shoulders, 
hands tugging her to make 2023 this way or that.
January doesn't have much, other than a mind scattered with shattered memories, 
an outdated camera, a journal, and allies afar.

She has suffered greatly and been granted little.
Still processing beautiful memories now lost, she is finding a way to hold them in her heart.
Please don't tamper, okay? Don't take the memories, toss them left and right. Let her hold them.

On behalf of January, now, I will wish for your 2023. Don't leave it all to January, though, okay?
She's doing her best.
She's trying her best.

VTD Editor

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