Poets Desk: Two Sonnets for Edward Hopper
Sunlight in a Cafeteria
A slanting trapezoid of afternoon,
a muted wedge between avoiding eyes;
we measure out this pause in tablespoons
of thick molasses, slowly oozing by
across the empty tables, shifts and sighs,
the hopeful fruit of day pared to the rind.
We watch the shadows slither. When we rise,
leave nothing but the lemon light behind.
An angle of the chin, a glance inclined
would tilt us eye-to-eye and interlocked:
but this is both unspoken and declined,
two close and separate hands upon a clock.
The minute motes I study in the air
between my fingers--secrets dancing there.
She will not go. A monument of no,
of stoic, steel decline, unswerving calm,
of soft determination not to roam,
to feel instead the wood beneath her palm.
She will not leave this sweeping, wingless plain
where sun paints solid forms in sturdy strokes.
The suitcases and cars, her old refrain,
are flimsy by comparison, just smoke.
She’ll hold this holy ground so static still,
as steady as the sun upon a wall;
her body shall become the golden hills,
eternal shapes where light and shadow fall.
She will not cede or rise and come away--
the world belongs to those who stop and stay.