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Hopper's Nighthawks

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I remember nights when we were young,
running far and fast down silent streets
angling through the city.
We were ghosts lit by the stars.
We'd act out our dreams with shadows
on the sidewalk, and pretend we were old.
And at just the right moment we'd get up and dance
in the green light from Phillies, our faces and shadows green,
and laugh and laugh and run inside...
I remember the rush of leaving the darkness, silent despite our voices,
and running in and talking to Dad, who was always working,
and questioning the strangers seated at the bar.
We'd pretend they were characters in a story we'd made up
while we were sitting outside and watching.
They'd play along, even the sad ones, and we'd ask
questions and make accusations and tell them
they'd have to come "downtown".
Then Dad would make us his special drink and we'd
sit at the counter with dangling legs and sip.
And I remember wondering why they were all so sad,
the strangers around us, and wondering if it was our fault because
they'd watch us playing and seem more sad.
I would cry sometimes, later at night, when all of us
were wrapped in darkness in our bed. I thought it was our fault
that even the sky seemed sad,
and even Dad seemed lonely.
He would come in then, he would always come in,
and not say anything. But we'd look out the windows at the
stars that were still there, and at the shadows and streetlights,
and I would sleep.

© 1999 Feed, all rights reserved
 appears here by permission

Author Notes

           "Hopper's Nighthawks" is based on the painting, Nighthawks, by Hopper, and was an English assignment (I'm a high school senior [June, 1999]). This and other poems I've written for class have led me to consider a more serious pursuit of poetry, so I'd love to hear any feedback. Zooooooool@aol.com

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