Wednesday, July 04, 2012

I'm Ashamed Of My Shoulders And My Large, Awkward Hands



Edward Hopper And The House By The Railroad 


Out here in the exact middle of the day,
This strange, gawky house has the expression
Of someone being stared at, someone holding
His breath underwater, hushed and expectant;

This house is ashamed of itself, ashamed
Of its fantastic mansard rooftop
And its pseudo-Gothic porch, ashamed
of its shoulders and large, awkward hands.

But the man behind the easel is relentless.
He is as brutal as sunlight, and believes
The house must have done something horrible
To the people who once lived here

Because now it is so desperately empty,
It must have done something to the sky
Because the sky, too, is utterly vacant
And devoid of meaning. There are no

Trees or shrubs anywhere--the house
Must have done something against the earth.
All that is present is a single pair of tracks
Straightening into the distance. No trains pass.

Now the stranger returns to this place daily
Until the house begins to suspect
That the man, too, is desolate, desolate
And even ashamed. Soon the house starts

To stare frankly at the man. And somehow
The empty white canvas slowly takes on
The expression of someone who is unnerved,
Someone holding his breath underwater.

And then one day the man simply disappears.
He is a last afternoon shadow moving
Across the tracks, making its way
Through the vast, darkening fields.

This man will paint other abandoned mansions,
And faded cafeteria windows, and poorly lettered
Storefronts on the edges of small towns.
Always they will have this same expression,

The utterly naked look of someone
Being stared at, someone American and gawky.
Someone who is about to be left alone
Again, and can no longer stand it.

-Edward Hirsch 

 

5 comments:

Casey Klahn said...

Nice.

Tom said...

Edward Hirsch really nails it with his poem... the peculiar activity of Edward Hopper. He brought the awkward and the conspicuous into fine focus. When people populated these harshly lit stages, they became themselves only emotional furniture. I see Thoreau's comment, "most men lead lives of quiet desperation..." as an appropriate title to so many of Hopper's paintings.

Sam L. said...

Me, I give a great big THANK YOU!!!!!
for the accompanying music.

Everyman said...

We live in Hopper country, here, as you probably know. It's a privilege to do so.

BJM said...

Benny & the Boys are cookin'... what a line up. Mom & Dad caught them at the Palomar...a peak experience.

Rock drummer equal to swing's Krupa? No, that's too easy...the most underrated rock drummer?