after Edward Hopper’s Sea Watchers

There’s a loneliness beyond loneliness,
the sort that makes me imagine buying
a stuffed toy to talk mean to, perhaps a big bear
with a mechanism that spits back inappropriate
comments like change your bite, or swallow and sit,
something I can snarl without consequence.

But this couple of Hopper isn’t us, he’s too tall,
she’s too fat, and it’s apparent they have been practicing
the same old argument for eons longer than we have,
you know, the one that silences us both. You can see
she’s so mad she refuses to remove that bathing cap
which is squeezing her scalp like a vice while he hulks forward
in his chair ready with his as-yet-un-spoken dismissal.

The towels too are waving in the ocean breeze,
two white, one yellow, one orange—
ugly I think, but added, I suppose, for color,
since Hopper’s clothesline has no hook.

So the old flap continues, as if to say
Hopper’s couple could go for a swim since they obviously
aren’t going to talk to each other for a long time.
Ars longa, vita brevis?

Beyond them two pilings stick out of the sand
locked together by a heavy iron chain,
symbol, I suppose, of a sort of marriage
tucked in a sort of solitude,
mouth more open than mind.

I cannot bear them. But some do.