Rooms for Tourists, 1945
—after Edward Hopper
Would you want to rent in this strangely lit
house looming out of Cape Cod’s dark. Black
window awnings gaze like half-closed eyes,
seeing perhaps, what’s hidden inside
and all who may be entering this place of yellow light.
Pale greens around windows and door shift to ink
in a hedge that seems to box us out. A sign glares
in front, dares any to accept its invitation. Where
are the one-nighters, the summer boarders? No rockers
on the vacant porch, so little furniture in the Victorian parlor
and front hall. Is there a long tabled dining
room with places set for the couple with nothing
to say to each other, for an unmarried teacher here
for the few days she can afford, the salesman here
to find a buyer for his trunk load of beach gear? Interior light
plays with ghosts, guards against the dark. Hopper’s night
drapes street and yard. Let’s leave it to him. Move
on, traveler. Unless you seek a brush with mystery.
Hotel by a Railroad, 1952
—after Edward Hopper
Almost bald with sharping features, a man stands
gazing from a window at empty tracks, parallel lines
leading from the city, out of the room where he has turned
from the woman who sits, book open on her lap, head bent
to the pages that could be leading her out of this hotel
in a city of trains, passengers stepping off and on. Mirrored
grays and a wedge of darkness outline this shadow-haunted room.
Of course I see sunlight—against the building, flooding their window,
brightening the red bureau, illuminating half of a wall
above the seated woman and the silky slip covering full breasts.
The man’s vest, pants and shirt, a pattern of black and white.
He holds a cigarette in his right hand, she with gray streaked hair
falling over pink straps, has stodgy calves rooted to the unseen floor,
her body so welded to the leather chair, I’m nodding—All right, be settled.
No. Before his vision narrows further, before she turns to stone,
I want to tell them—Get on the next train.
Diana Pinckney, Charlotte, NC, has five collections of poetry, including Alchemy, Green Daughters, and The Beast and the Innocent, 2015. Pinckney is the 2010 Winner of the Ekphrasis Prize and Atlanta Review’s 2012 International Prize.