New York, 1932
by Mary Jo Balistreri
       after Edward Hopper, Room In New York

An island lies between us, and no way to cross.
Swiveling on the piano stool, over-ripe, tropical,
as lush-heavy as a coconut on the edge of the sea,
I think my needs small, so why do they burn so hot?

He hunches into newspaper futures, withdraws
into his bank account. Spent like a hollow log.

Why am I not the arms curving around him,
the shadow-dance across his face,
the plush velvet I lean against.

Instead, I shrivel, squeezed to the side.
Acid green walls push forward, crowd.
Fresh air’s erased,
windows, black rectangles of midnight.

With a sharp intake of breath, I turn
to the cold ivory of the keyboard,
drop my finger and press.

The sound wails in the silence
of the room, then spirals away,
nothing left,
but an echo.


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