—for Edward Hopper
Red chair. The human sacrifice, a perfect desert, outside the window
(window the leash on the decay of the dream) is the entire world.
Woman in a red dress on the edge of the bed ready to go or to stay forever—
suitcase on the floor, same color as the undamaged road, green sedan
at the edge of the window leaves no knowledge but assumption.
Death in the shadows of a room without dusk—everything wreaks of
“just passing through.” The bones in your mind can’t be found anywhere,
thin skin of civilization torn between the open curtains just the way you like it.
You amuse yourself with the idea of the girl as automobile, automobile
as girl but you paint her pensive, and relaxed, cross her legs to maintain the tension—
she falls back from shapes and tones when you question the composition.
Your tongue, the silent tongue, silences the perfect pitch in the colored palette—
Blonde in a red dress, red shoes, green automobile, deep stain on the wall, red
sheets washed a pale carmine by the bent light we can’t call the sun—
Simple lamp is simple math, that’s why you included it, the shape of the headlamp,
color of sand to balance the weight of the room.
Your attention to detail, your will for the stark exposes your creation to the impossibility of
chance, of occasion because your real gift is design—
She’s in a poem that looks and smells like real life (No, it’s not a poem, it’s
poetry with nothing to do, never anything to do …)
It’s important how she looks at you, through you, past you—she still looks for your signal,
lives for you, with you, without you, and you are both still alone. She paints you, makes you a
landscape (in her mind) as a small rebellion and this is why she must despise you, for the
vision (she too has become herself). You know, the dullness, the repression, the squashing
of giddiness, the discipline to stare long enough to see
almost everything and the discipline to pause just before it and you crack and tear.
Her back is to the view because there is nothing more to understand. Yep, she’s smart and
pretty but who wants to surrender expectation and the belief that something’s coming—
(You could show us longing but you don’t have to because she’s already there.)
The road is the thing that’s really American—there’s nothing on it and you can see it right
outside the window, and the funny thing is that we are always looking at it all the time—But,
maybe she is too because everything here and here after all is just an idea.
—from Rattle #22, Winter 2004