(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.

Space invaders.

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.

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