Two pop cultural icons—Edward Hopper and Prozac—together in one poem.
Look closely, you can see him through the window —
the Chinese Restaurant. Two pills in his palm,
he’s rolling them together and apart, together and apart.
The waiter fills his teacup. Hopper traces the rim.
A family of fourteen laughs but what he hears
is the shuffle of feet, a wire whisk scuffing a bowl,
Musak. The only thing of interest is the couple
against the saffron colored wall.
He has been dead for forty years, in therapy for four.
Feelings of disassociation, melancholy, ennui.
Not to mention a non-acceptance of his own death.
The couple sits at a round table. The man wears
a tie so tight, he must have come right from sales training.
He studies the menu, bent over as if he forgot
his reading glasses. She, in the red shift, has turned away.
Head down, unblinking, elbow tipping the table’s edge.
All diagonals and curves, she is in the lovely pose
of someone texting a friend. Her finger is poised to tap.
You’d swear she is waiting for a sound she will never hear.
Hopper leaves the restaurant, limps towards the train.
Climbs the stairs, breath ragged, heart straining.
But when he tells the therapist about the couple,
he paces and gestures. He will paint them
in hues of ochre, buttercream, marigold.
He’ll get the red of the dress just right, the way
it shimmys into orange, jumps onto the woman’s skin.
The arc of her neck, just so; finger hovering
the keypad, the man ignoring, ignored.
The therapist stops scribbling. Reminds Hopper
he painted that scene in 1932. And there it is again.
That desperate need to see the beauty of isolation.
The therapist decides to double Hopper’s prescription.
This is an Ekphrastic Poem: one piece of art referencing another.
“Room In New York” 1932. by Edward Hopper