Note from the Underground
Elisabeth Murawski

Note from the Underground

They sit behind me, unseen, the small girl’s
voice in my ear naming things in Spanish.
I picture hair and eyes dark as the mood I’m in,

belly of the whale. Grande, grande, grande,
she chirps with so much joy I smile
without even thinking I should be sad.

Like Jonah I am spewed forth on a wave.
The sun is back, the blinds are raised.
What an unexpected gift—to be a little less

bereft. I return to my book, a novel
of Italy between wars, the hero a socialist
disguised as a priest. Absorbed

in his travels by mule and cart, at first
I don’t notice the quiet. Somewhere,
that voice buoyant as cork is naming

what she sees, activating delight
in neighbor or stranger. On the escalator.
In the street. Wrapped in her mother’s arms.

Elisabeth Murawski

is the author of Heiress, which received the Poetry Society of Virginia Book Award for 2018; Zorba’s Daughter, which won the May Swenson Poetry Award; Moon and Mercury; and two chapbooks. Her recent publication credits include The Yale Review, The Hudson Review, and The Carolina Quarterly. A native of Chicago, she currently lives in Alexandria, Virginia.