The Subway Station – a pantoum #SOL21 Day #14

Today I participated in Day #2 of the Ethical ELA Open Write.

I wrote a pantoum.

I’ve never written one before.

When I read the process for writing a pantoum, my first thought was: Woah! I will never be able to do that.

Then, I decided to try it out.

I’ve been writing about my mom.

My memories.

My confused and often conflicted emotions.

I need to sort them out for my mental health and peace of mind.

So, I wrote about when I used to wait for my mom at the Kings Highway subway station in NY at the end of her work day.

I surprised myself.

Although, the pantoum is not perfect, it brought to the fore new emotions for me to grapple with.

Here’s the poem:

The Subway Station

I wait against the wall of the subway station.
I wonder about the private lives of the people making their way through the turnstiles.
I stare at some of the more intriguing faces.
Then, I spot my mom.

I wonder about the private lives of the people making their way through the turnstiles.
Are they happy?
Then, I spot my mom.
I am happy to see her because I know we’re going to go shopping!

Are they happy?
I look at each face as they walk past trying to imagine their lives.
I am happy to see her because I know we’re going to go shopping!
Is that all my mom meant to me: a shopping companion?

I look at each face as they walk past trying to imagine their lives.
I stare at some of the more intriguing faces.
Is that all my mom meant to me: a shopping companion?
I wait against the wall of the subway station.

Cross posted to The Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Thank you to Ethical ELA for the inspiration.

13 thoughts on “The Subway Station – a pantoum #SOL21 Day #14

  1. Such an interesting structure, and you got it to work with your small moment memory.
    I feel as if this form gives an almost surreal feeling, and takes us out of linear time.
    I tried to analyze it from your poem and I might give it a try- thanks for inspiration.

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  2. I loved that you played with poetry to sort through feelings. That last stanza is so powerful… and that last line- I love it.
    There are so many layers to relationships- things you like to do, deeper feelings for each other, things you like to talk about. Those many layers, including shopping and spending quality time together, help define the relationships.

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  3. What an intriguing poetic style. I had heard of this but I have never tried one. The poem seems to give equal weight to reflections on waiting for your mom and wondering what life is like for the multitude (especially the interesting faces) that passed you by. Do the two blend with the recurring question: Are they happy? Just wanted you to know that your poem got me thinking…

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  4. Megan Watson says:

    This is truly such a difficult poetry structure, but I think you nailed it! Your emotions and reflection are deeply embedded in your words and the repetition does a lot to reinforce that. I wonder if I should try one myself soon!? Thanks for the inspiration!

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    • I’m glad you were inspired, Megan. I actually love writing poetry though I always found it hard to respond and understand the poetry we were asked to read in school. That is why I am so adamant with my students about other aspects of poetry that are not about rhyming.

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  5. WOWilkinson says:

    Thanks for sharing. I like how the reader is immersed in your thoughts. I love to challenge my students to fit their thinking into pantoums (or villanelles).

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  6. Payanar says:

    This is a really interesting poetic form. I will have to go check out the prompt on Ethical ELA. It is very interesting how you found such a profound question in the mining of this memory. Good luck with sorting through your emotions. It is difficult to do, but you are right, it will be better for your mental health to work through them.

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