(Based on Automat by Edward Hopper)
She only comes here at night
When the hours stare her full in the face
And ask too many questions –
And the jobs can’t be stretched out
Any further to fill the big emptiness –
The space, wohnraum.
The small noises are what
Drive you mad, get into your
head; audial intruders.
Especially the sound of other people
Getting on with their normal lives
In the other apartments.
Shouting, laughing, living.
It’s too much inside too little.
So she leaves
And walks through streets
Which are differently empty.
She likes the lights at night.
What time is it?
The old man shrugged and walked away.
She thought she saw pity in his eyes – although
He looked like he slept on the street –
And then he was gone.
The tube light is too harsh
But the coffee isn’t bad.
She can sit here for three hours
And not see another person
Or some nights it’s full
Of the usual drunks and loners.
She’s careful to sit away from them.
Tonight she’s alone
There’s a clock ticking
And a mechanical buzzing –
some traffic noise.
Her lipstick makes a heart shape
on the cup –
A flash of red on white –
She wipes it with her handkerchief
Before walking home.