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Muriel Rukeyser

(December 15, 1913 – February 12, 1980 / New York City)

Seventh Avenue


This is the cripple’s hour on Seventh Avenue
when they emerge, the two o’clock night-walkers,
the cane, the crutch, and the black suit.
Oblique early mirages send the eyes:
night dramatized in puddles, the animal glare
that makes indignity, makes the brute.
Not enough effort in the sky for morning.
No color, pantomime of blackness, landscape
where the third layer black is always phantom

Here comes the fat man, the attractive dog-chested
legless—and the wounded infirm king
with nobody to use him as a saint.

Now they parade in the dark, the cripples’ hour
to the drugstore, the bar, the newspaper-stand,
past kissing shadows on a window-shade to
colors of alcohol, reflectors, light.
Wishing for trial to prove their innocence
with one straight simple look:

the look to set this avenue in its colors—
two o’clock on a black street instead of
wounds, mysteries, fables, kings
in a kingdom of cripples.

Submitted: Thursday, December 15, 2011
Edited: Thursday, December 15, 2011

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