Today's poem is by Campbell McGrath

The Death of Edward Hopper (1967)


Night after night the foghorn
like a great horned owl watching over the harbor,
boats in and out with their trawls and gigs,

rose bushes behind the town museum
with its spoked wheel from the sunken skipjack
whose mast emerges from a sand dune

like an eruptive stork leg,
and the original Fresnel lens from the lighthouse
a lapidary, many-petalled crystal flower,

swollen magnolia blossoms at twilight,
tree like a dewy, perfumed chandelier,
and the hushed grass beneath the cedars

at that hour when the sky eases toward ashes,
then darker, darker, night not a veil descending
but a hand rising up, cle_nching us in its palm.


Not a misanthrope, not a swain of solitude,
not averse to heavy breasts
spilling from a beige silk nightgown,

not afraid of the body but more at home
with sunlight infiltrating empty rooms,
the veneer of bleached calcium on oyster shells,

freight cars, brick walls, seaside hills.
Endurance and austerity.
Ardent restraint.

Brush-strokes aloof as iridescent soap bubbles,
flocked clouds reflected in car windows,
umbrellas on city avenues like algal blooms,

the illusion of riches in a teaspoon of puddle-water
and the domestic suns of dandelions
shining everywhere, everywhere, everywhere.


Carnival attractions at sunset in late summer,
Sea Dragon, Tilt-a-Whirl, The Scrambler,
disorienting blurs of candescent motion

that conclude with a staggering forth like birth,
a reemergence, shaken and laughing,
into the popcorn-scented dusk.

You would think that was the end of it
but they come again—singly and in pairs,
strapped into little egg- and saucer-shaped cars,

defenseless in the last raw streamers of sunlight,
they wait, all starkness and vulnerability,
for the ride to start.

And the onlookers leaning against a picket fence
behold in those luminous faces
all the loneliness and longing of American life.

Copyright © 2015 Campbell McGrath All rights reserved
from Green Mountains Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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