Two Students Tapped to Read at Burlington Book Festival

Sep 26, 2012
Rebecca Valley ’16 and Anna Rutenbeck ’16 were two of 16 Vermont students chosen to share their writing at this weekend’s Burlington Book Festival. Both native Vermonters, Valley and Rutenbeck read their poems (below) as part of the Millennial Writers on Stage event, sponsored by the Young Writers Project and Vermont Public Radio.

the way we speak
By Rebecca Valley '16

we don't believe in adverbs where i'm from

the men that come, they tell me
life stories with their eyes
ask me to bag the bread and eggs separate, please

no bag for the wine

the wife is at home, they say, or sometimes they don't say
and i wonder if she's dead, if
the kids grew up or grew out
moved out, moved up. if

they know the difference between adjectives and “ly” adverbs now

these men, they call me by name, all of them,
and they are the only ones who do.
they say to me Rebecca I bought my first car for fifty dollars,
and now look at this grocery bill and they say to me
Rebecca I'm always doing good it's really the only way to be
and I wonder how I'll manage in a world where "well"s
aren't just watering holes dug from the earth
where things are placed separately,

a happy twist on such a barren word

separate like those kids that moved out,
a wife that died, went away,

separate like my speech and theirs

and I wonder why my parents tried so hard to teach me how to speak
without any indication of where I come from I wonder

why they deprived me of dialect

but I've got the “t”s I forget to say,
the meals I unthaw for dinner
not every part of my green mountain homeland is frozen
and I wonder if they trust me because we speak
the same language, separate in everything but
stunted lilting voice.


Run and Crash
By Anna Rutenbeck '16

Remember how your legs were moving,
faster faster and you felt like the world was yours-- you could run all the way to London
to Beijing

to Sydney because you were light as a feather and nothing in the world could stop you.

But that kind of energy can only last a few fleeting moments.

Remember how your lungs caught up with you--
how it got harder to breathe--
you were gasping--
for breath--
but it wouldn’t come and the only way to allow your lungs some respite was to crash into the grass.

Remember how you lay on your back and let the tiny blades tickle the insides of your knees, let the ants crawl over your toes, let the sunshine hit your forehead.

Remember how you rose from the grass and ran again and again, repeating the process over and over, each time the sprints becoming shorter and shorter until eventually the sun was setting. The world was turning dark, the grass wet and cold.

You hadn’t lived in a city yet so you’d never experienced a starless night sky

but you’d never really looked at the stars either.

Remember how the fast burning balls of light patterned the sky, the way some of them sparkled and some of them were blue. You were young and didn’t yet understand the concepts of outer-space of galaxies or supernovas and you really just thought it was all kind of pretty.

Remember how your mother finally called you inside.
Remember how you lay your head to pillow and wrapped yourself in sleep.

Remember how you closed your eyes and thought about the stars and how in the morning they would be gone. Replaced once again by the bright burning sun.

Remember how your legs were moving as you ran and crashed.