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Published: Fri Oct 15 1976
Wosene Worke Kosrof, The Inventor V (detail), 2022, acrylic on linen. Courtesy of Sullivan Goss Gallery, Santa Barbara, California
Singing in the Underground

It isn’t the man selling religious pamphlets
under posters for abortion clinics.
It isn’t coming from the escalator, or any
of the bright entrances. It’s not
any ordinary musician playing for coins.
I hear a voice far down past where the green
and yellow arrows point to Circle Line,
Central Line, Victoria. I follow it,
past the stairway, growing excited.
It is singing a song I heard before, on a
late movie, or a record I found
in my grandmother’s attic after she died.

It is a song they sang during the war
when whole families lived here,
lining the halls, asleep in their winter coats.
It is a song about the bombs falling
on the houses. It says we must stay here now—
here we will be safe. It says goodbye
to the other world. It tells all the children
to sleep and not to cry. I follow it
down long corridors until I am lost.
Here the posters curl up at the edges.
Signs point to stairways that have collapsed.
The platforms are unlit. The singing
leads me forward. It is someone
who has been here for a long time, who finally
has grown lonely and wants someone to come
all the way back, to the last places, forgotten
even by the men who made them.

See what's inside AGNI 5 and 6

Cynthia Huntington’s first publication in a literary journal was in AGNI 5/6, in the spring of 1975. Her most recent book, Heavenly Bodies (Crab Orchard/Southern Illinois University Press), was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Award in Poetry. She lives in Vermont and teaches at Dartmouth College. (updated 4/2014)

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