Here is a poem I love, written by Ellen Reiss, with whom I’ve studied for many years in the course The Aesthetic Realism Explanation of Poetry. As the world today is—and has been for so long—in turmoil about how to see the sameness and difference of people—in place, time, language, religion, culture, appearance, I am reminded of this moving poem about reality, which is introduced below with a brief note by the poet.
“The Shadows, Black” is about two different aspects of the world: an Arabian desert and New York, with its skyscrapers. The poem says that these two are of each other, inseparable—as a person needs to see different aspects of herself as the same person. —Ellen Reiss
To read more poems by Ms. Reiss, and by others, go to What Poetry Really Is: A Celebration. And read some of her critical writings, and also works by Eli Siegel, poet and founder of Aesthetic Realism, at On the Criticism of Poetry.
The Shadows, Black
The shadows, dark, stretched across the desert sand,
Have the profundity of New York skyscrapers
Reaching toward blue.
A camel moves, pale against the large sun;
Feels the pulsing of the desert in his legs
Longs to curl up, puppy-like, beside a great tree:
He has known this life of winding caravans,
Of dark men shaded by white cloth.
The sand is grey now, the sun purely white,
The shadows black.
The camel drops his eyelids, trembles,
Remembering metal buildings soaked in rain,
The pounding of water on wide, dusty streets,
And he hears the tinkling of small bells echo over miles of sand
Made lovely by shadows.