“Nighthawks,” 1942 by Edward Hopper


This woman that I met an hour ago,
Has hair bright red, bright like a flame at dusk,
Reminding me how Mother’s hair will glow
And how her hands and face can smell like musk;

This woman, an ice queen, desires a man,
Her pores cry out for warm togetherness,
And I could take her to my room–“That fan,
Bud, moans like a coyote in distress,

This coffee’s cold, I need a drop or two,
She needs a warm-up too” . . . like Mother, she
Won’t say what she wants, makes you hunt for clues,
She’ll drive you crazy over cups of tea.

That other man has given her the eye.
I must be honest with myself, admit
I always treat a woman dignified
And I’ll go home tomorrow and I’ll sit

Beside the fire while Mother talks and knits,
And Sammy licks my hand and sleepy Patch
Curls in my lap . . . “These bills will cover this . . .
I’m sorry, but I have a train to catch.”