“Sunlight in Slush…”

It’s cold in New York. Very cold. Bitter, biting cold. Looking out my window yesterday, I watched as the East River froze over on the Brooklyn side, ice solidly covering more and more of the shore, and also floating upriver in lively dancing congregations of smaller ice floes. Here’s how it looks today, at a balmy 18°:

Ice on the East River, 2-16-15 #1

Ice on the East River, 2-16-15 #1

East River, Frozen & Moving

East River, Frozen & Moving

I know it gets colder elsewhere, and that New England has had record amounts of snow in the last few weeks. I’ve experienced a couple of Montana winter afternoons with sub-zero temperatures. It’s a cold, blizzard-filled winter—no doubt.

So I’m not saying all this about our cold snap to complain. Rather, as I’m glad to be able to stay warm indoors, I’m just musing on the forces of nature—and on how people in a city such as ours meet them.

I got to thinking of how things will be next week and in other days to come, when the sun is warm and the ice begins to melt. How often people grumble about slush! I’ve been among them, I admit.

But here’s a poem that has an attitude to slush that can have everyone see it as not just an inconvenient and messy phenomenon, but as a chance to wonder at the nature of reality, and the relation of slush to human beings going about our daily lives. Read “Sunlight in Slush, in Puddles, and in Wet Municipal Surfaces; or, Miracle on Eighth Avenue below Fourteenth Street,” by Eli Siegel.

       I
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….

Click to read the rest of the poem

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