'Woman Seated in the Underground', 1941
Carol Ann Duffy
I forget. I have looked at the other faces and found
no memory, no love. Christ, she's a rum one.
Their laughter fills the tunnel, but it does not
comfort me. There was a bang and then
I was running with the rest through smoke. Thick, grey
smoke has covered thirty years at least.
I know I am pregnant, but I do not know my name.
Now they are singing. Underneath the lantern
by the barrack gate. But waiting for whom?
Did I? I have no wedding ring, no handbag, nothing.
I want a fag. I have either lost my ring or I am
a loose woman. No. Someone has loved me. Someone
is looking for me even now. I live somewhere.
I sing the word darling and it yields nothing.
Nothing. A child is crying. Mine doesn't show yet.
Baby. My hands mime the memory of knitting.
Purl. Plain. I know how to do these things, yet my mind
has unraveled into thin threads that lead nowhere.
In a moment, I shall stand up and scream until
somebody helps me. The skies were filled with sirens, planes,
fire, bombs, and I lost myself in the crowd. Dear God.
Carol Ann Duffy lives in London. Her collections of poetry include Standing Female Nude (Anvil, 1985), Selling Manhattan (Anvil, 1987), The Other Country (Anvil 1990). She was the recipient of the Dylan Thomas Award in 1990, the Somerset Maugham Award in 1988 and the Cholmondeley Award in 1992.