After the Opening, 1932
Why hadn’t he thought of it before?
He turns to Jo, to the waiter handing out
buttered rolls, glasses of wine, caviar:
everyone must go! He realizes chairs
should remain in disarray, windows open,
gleaming ends of rump roast steaks and salmon
pâtés cooling in neglected browns and pinks.
At the Whitney, earlier, he was approached
by a small man with a quivering grin.
If you don’’t mind my saying so, he began,
but Hopper did, and turned to admire
his lost faces, lights flirting with darks,
the tip of a steeple just brushing the sky.
You’ve really got it, you know --
what it’s like when no one’s around.
Hopper took an inward bow, then noticed
the white tied bow in New York Restaurant,
quiet blue back and perched beige vase towering
over a Room in Brooklyn, where light
and afternoon would have done.
It will not do! He can scarcely eat;
Jo chats with the Rockefellers,
the Pierpont Morgans, Guggenheims,
while Hopper’s lost in an empty room.
From now on, he vows, all will be absence --
shadows the dreams of long gone men,
roads into the distance only roads, eyes
only eyes, with nothing behind them.
-- Anna Ziegler
From The Best American Poetry 2003 edited by Yusef Komunyakaa. Originally in The Threepenny Review (Summer 2002) edited by Wendy Lesser.