from Late Nights With Wild Cowboys
I'd be a Hopper Painting
It’s just this: that I’d like things not to end.
That I’d never get past morning if I could.
I’d be a Hopper painting. Freight Cars, Gloucester, 1928.
Or, if I had to be a Summer Evening, in 1947,
I wouldn’t be the girl. I’d be the
step by the rail of the porch; I wouldn’t
listen to the man.
Or wonder if the girl will turn; forgive him, and take him in.
Cape Cod Morning, 1950, for example: I wouldn’t be the woman
leaning from the well-lit room. Instead, I’d be the pane of glass
and look (but not like her, out to the yard and waiting—
for what, for whom),
inside and out at once, without desire.
I wouldn’t even be a shadow if it touches her. I wouldn’t risk it.
I would stay away from women.
I’d be the lamp on the bridge of the Manhattan Loop,
in 1928. The point where the sand meets the grass at the
Wellfleet shore. The red wheel that sits out back
of the Panet River place. The square of light on the wall.
The unseen bow of the yawl that is hidden by a
sudden swell, in 1935. I’d be the diagonal thrust of the
Shoshone cliffs, I’d be the bright rock face that’s set in
stark relief by a black shadow cast in 1941.
If, let’s say, on a summer’s evening a girl forgives a man,
might not she, in waking, find herself inside
another—a Cape Cod—morning,
three years gone, and set to staring there?
I’d be a Hopper painting if I could.
Even his women he paints solid.
But I wouldn’t be a woman.
I’d be Freight Cars, Gloucester, 1928.
I’d be the light on the slanted grass.
Copyright © Johanna Skibsrud, 2008