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Pantoum for a Young Girl
by Isobel Cunningham

Every day I ran away from home.
Every night I returned.
Reading Joyce or some obscure poem
Freedom and fear, twin flames burned.

Every night I returned
In my seventeenth summer.
Freedom and fear, twin flames burned,
Marching or dancing to my heart’s drama.

In my seventeenth summer
Ecstatic, angry young queen of helpless
Marching or dancing to my heart’s desire
Mind hijacked by my body, by excess.

Ecstatic, angry young queen of helpless
Rebel, under my lover’s magic spell.
Mind hijacked by the body, by excess,
Classes cut for lessons in a cheap hotel.

Rebel, under my lover’s magic spell.
Reading Joyce or some obscure poem
Classes cut for lessons in a cheap hotel.
Every day I ran away from home.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My seventeenth summer. Taken in early summer 1964 in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I attended the San Miguel Writers’ Conference in 2014, 2015, and 2016, combining learning and creative inspiration with some respite from Quebec winters. I learned about various poetic forms and attempted a pantoum for this topic. This form was originally a rhythmic poem or song, repeating lines in linked verses. The confines of form that includes rhyme, repetition, and meaning is quite a challenge.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Isobel Cunningham writes short fiction and poetry. She published a book of poetry late in 2015 entitled Northern Compass. It is available on Amazon. She also writes a blog — isobelmtl.wordpress.com. She is a guide at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and her work is often inspired by paintings or sculptures.