Though they lived for decades no more than a block
from each other in Greenwich Village – one
in Washington Square, the other Patchin Place –
there is no record they ever met,
Hopper the painter, Cummings the poet.
They would have thought that they had nothing
in common – the real, the lyrical.
But, hey, what do geniuses know?
They may have passed each other on some sidewalk,
on Sixth Avenue or Bleecker Street,
or in the subway on 9th, or eaten,
unaware, in the Grand Central Oyster Bar.
Though for different reasons, they would have
admired the colour co-ordination
of the pink elastic bands which restrain
the claws of the live lobsters brought to tables
on metal platters for diners to select.
In ‘Automat’ a pretty young woman
in a beige cloche hat and a dark green
fur trimmed coat sits alone. Behind her
the two rows of the vast automat’s
overhead lights are bleak in the night-filled
plate glass window. Her silk stockinged legs
are crossed beneath the table. Her dress –
which we can glimpse through her open coat – is tan.
She has removed the black glove from her right hand
to eat whatever was on the small plate
in front of her and to drink her coffee.
Maybe she is thinking about the poem
her lover read to her this afternoon:
‘somewhere i have never travelled…your eyes
have their silence… your slightest look easily
will unclose me…nobody, not even
the rain, has such small hands.’