Poems

Edward Hopper’s Automat

 

The Automat serves the original and loneliest fast food. 

Drop in a coin. There could be no one else in the world,

just you and something made somewhere else. 

The young woman sits at the round table, 

rows of reflections of lights seeming neither inside

nor out,  in the huge black beyond of the window. 

The door and the radiator stand to the left, neither 

managing to convince the other of warmth or escape.  

Her green coat laps open, half between arriving 

and leaving. Holding her cup suspended 

with her bare hand, the other gloved, she is neither 

drinking nor not drinking. Yet on her head is the most 

yellow and chic cloche, round and drooping. 

It’s awkward, this leftover hope, shading the downcast 

eyes. Yet, if you approach her, tell her it will be all right— 

maybe nothing is wrong. Or maybe what’s wrong 

is the best thing, her possession, what can’t be bought 

at the Automat. Maybe she’s gone too far to want 

to be distracted, now, maybe she can see from here

the internal workings, where all is sorted and rearranged.