the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night




Joseph Stanton

Edward Hopper's Night Shadows

It is early in the century but late at night.
Hopper has leaned out an upper-floor window.
He is looking down at the sidewalk
and the facade of the business on the corner.
A tall, unseen pole casts a long shadow
that a man is about to walk into.
I want to imagine this man my father,
though that makes me a conception
whose time has not yet come.

In '21 he has not even met my mother.
On this paper street his foreshortened form
is a small gathering of ink,
deposited by intaglio, etched to adhere,
where he strides in a hurry.
Centered on the horizontal,
he is the point of balance
that implies the immensity
of New York City night.

One man walking—solitary, ordinary—
going nowhere in particular,
passing without giving the matter any thought
under the spotlight
of a brilliantly lighted, nondescript corner,
towards shadows
that will keep going
all the way
to the unseen stars.


Edward Hopper's Morning Sun

"A vast and tender/ peace/ seems to descend/ from the heavens…"
            —from a Paul Verlaine poem Edward Hopper gave to his wife, Jo

This harsh light's a kind of voyeur.
She faces it through an open window,
a light that is the gaze of her only Edward
basking on her, his one and only Jo.
With a marriage that is a kind of war,
how can they stay so devoted, so true?
Attired in the red-orange he'd a passion for,
she's held in his mind's box of green and blue.
He's made her echo the red-brick horizon
that gleams beneath the sky across the street.
Facing the rise of a new day's sun,
she opens to rumors of spring's relief,
but the vast, descending peace her lover
makes for her seems entirely untender.



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