Aesthetic Realism Looks at New York City: Poetry



Eli Siegel


Sunlight in Slush, in Puddles, and in Wet
Municipal Surfaces; or, Miracle on Eighth
Avenue below Fourteenth Street


It was a dying sun, too.
The sun did not have the energy it had two hours ago, nor in some
      days last June,
But it was the same sun, with the same distances.
--Was it the sun in black water
On an Eighth Avenue pavement?
What else could it be?
The sun was allotting itself to ever so many dark, watery surfaces;
      I guess, being the sun, it could do nothing else.
But it was a miracle, a miracle being that you can look at, with      amazement inhabiting what you look with.
Certainly, it was before, but there was something like amazement
      when the sun (they say it is millions of miles away) was,
      through its light, in the consequences of a February rainfall
      and snowfall at once, with warmth present.
The sun was in February slush.
If this is not something to be amazed at,
Let us consult the most incredible lives of saints,
Written carelessly,
And call ourselves not careful.


The sunlight was like a true saint, a factual saint,
As it took up residence in slush.
The sunlight was like a beneficent mediaeval visitation
As it took up discernible residence in a puddle.
One puddle, along with the sun, had clouds in it
As plain as anything:
Grey, rotund, white vagueness within a puddle of water.


It is necessary to say what sunlight in slush bodes.
Offhand, it seems hard to think it bodes anything but well.
Slush (undesirable) is visited with power by February sunlight      (desirable)
And the slush has it that way, by the nature of slushness.


Slush is of various kinds,
Puddles are of various kinds.
Black wet areas on pavements
Are of various kinds:
But the February sunlight was present in all the kinds that came
     to be on Eighth Avenue below Fourteenth Street the day I'm
      speaking of.
The sunlight was present, even, in a furrow a car had made.
Sunlight gets into vehicular furrows and can be recorded as being
      in furrows.


The hardware store looked on.
Pizza selling went on near the visitation of slush by sunlight, and      dwelling therein.
Sanctity can come to pizzas
As you think of sunlight--fading but there--in slush, some of it
      with long oblong furrows.


While sunlight--dying sunlight--
Can come to slush,
We can't be sure
What can visit us,
What can occur to us;
What we are in a world of light without end
And possible slush ready to show itself, too--
In a world where both light and slush are indefatigable, and, are
     often friendly in February.


From Hail, American Development (Definition Press)
© 1968 by Eli Siegel