Washington Square—New York, 1941

When Edward Hopper finishes his painting for the night,
sets the boar bristles to soak in turpentine, wipes the thick
not-yet-crusted-over drips from his smock with a blue rag
and tips his palette up to incubate tomorrow’s luck,

he isn’t thinking of the greenish light from a street lamp,
how it hits plate glass and fractures through it, or the counter’s
corner in an all-night city diner. Most of the time
he is just hungry, already smelling the stew his wife

likes to make from white beans and bacon. His eyes lose focus, 
and his other senses — so long ignored in deference
to saturated color — come alive, more vivid now 
because of their confinement. How clear the little click as

the lamp’s wick sinks below its silver mouth, scratch of bootheels
on the tile stair when he descends. He inhales the evening,
the butcher’s bloody work, stale malt that drifts from a window.
The snowy world receives him: flakes melt and run down his cheeks.

From The More Difficult Beauty (HipPocket Press, 2010). Copyright © 2010 by Molly Fisk. Used with the permission of the author.