Mayakovsky In New York: A Found Poem by Annie Dillard
New York: You take a train that rips through versts. It feels as if the trains were running over your ears.
For many hours the train flies along the banks of the Hudson about two feet from the water. At the stops, passengers run out, buy up bunches of celery, and run back in, chewing the stalks as they go.
Bridges leap over the train with increasing frequency.
At each stop an additional story grows onto the roofs. Finally houses with squares and dots of windows rise up. No matter how far you throw back your head, there are no tops.
Time and again, the telegraph poles are made of wood. Maybe it only seems that way.
In the narrow canyons between the buildings, a sort of adventurer-wind howls and runs away along the versts of the ten avenues. Below flows a solid human mass. Only their yellow waterproof slickers hiss like samovars and blaze. The construction rises and with it the crane, as if the building were being lifted up off the ground by its pigtail. It is hard to take it seriously.
The buildings are glowing with electricity; their evenly cut-out windows are like a stencil. Under awnings the papers lie in heaps, delivered by trucks. It is impossible to tear oneself away from this spectacle.
At midnight those leaving the theaters drink a last soda. Puddles of rain stand cooling. Poor people scavenge bones. In all directions is a labyrinth of trains suffocated by vaults. There is no hope, your eyes are not accustomed to seeing such things.
They are starting to evolve an American gait out of the cautious steps of the Indians on the paths of empty Manhattan. Maybe it only seems that way.