The Underburbs

By Sharon Whitehill

Networks of tunnels and rooms 
carved out of natural caves
or straight into the rock,
multileveled and labyrinthine.
Drilled for subways and sewers,
or dug out as places of refuge.

Pillared halls, arched chambers 
for granaries, wineries, theaters, 
temples, and grottoes.
A former salt mine  
now a commodious complex 
of frescoes, carvings, and statues. 
An underground village in France
with bakeries and chapels.
How many square miles
in the fallout shelter under Beijing?
With hospitals, schoolrooms,
cinemas, arsenals, skating rink.

Cities invisible under our feet,
in spite of our natural hunger
for greenery, ocean, and sky. 
Hewn out of nature itself, 
parallel to the tunnels and rooms 
of the psyche. 
Caves hung with shadows. 
Mine shafts of the mind
that have swallowed the light. 


Sharon Whitehill is a retired English professor from West Michigan now living in Port Charlotte, Florida. In addition to poems published in various literary magazines, her publications include two biographies, two memoirs, two poetry chapbooks, and a full collection of poems.

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