Maybe it is evening in a distant city, not too big or too small.
A man is folding his suit pants in the bedroom, making sure the creases align.
He is sitting on a bed in his undershirt,
and she is brushing her teeth in the bathroom. He hears the water running,
the toothbrush sliding across her teeth, her mild humming.
He bends down to untie his shoes, and a shadow passes over his face.
She walks into the bedroom, wearing her pink nightgown.
She walks to her side of the bed, crawls under the white comforter,
snaps off the lamp on the wooden stand beside the bed.
He unbuttons his shirt in the half dark,
and stands to hang his shirt and pants in the closet.
No one talks in a Hopper painting. People are caught
after they have spoken, when there is nothing left to say.
The pauses must be endured, the way pain is endured,
silently, sometimes hidden, as if to slip and speak of suffering
were to break for a moment the spell of our aloneness.
A woman plays piano as a man reads the newspaper.
Two friends eat chop suey at a restaurant, without talking.
Each person is bathed in light: the natural light of the sun,
the fluorescence of a diner, a motel room; and the light
is another character in the painting, something that watches
each person’s privacy, always without comment,
without even the courtesy of a sound.