Edward Hopper’s Paint Box
When you see Edward Hopper’s paint box your first thought is tetanus, the rusted razor bladesfor sharpening pencils, the painting knives, like tiny sandblasted pie-servers, for applying paintimpasto, for working oils while wet. You might stare happily at the scraps of sandpaper,at the brittle-bristled brushes still flecked with gray-shot yellows, with greens infused with blue,but who, you think, would willingly take into her hand even the pencil, even the small cotton rag,and risk what they exact?
Known for your blunt beak beating against bark,your voice described impatient, loud, and slurred,you are not Peterson’s favorite bird.Your grating sound is nothing like the lark.It’s more like the tire-chain’s shudder, torque,as the snowplow fights downshift into third.Tree-clung, chisel-billed, wood-boring bombard,you are not spring except the grinding work
of spring: clearing fallen branches, rakingdead leaves, piling stone onto stones. Thick beakhacking bark is your truest song, clackingknock-knock-knock, loud, unapologetic.Unlike the birds that trill and soar, you moor.You drill, pursuing spring’s interior. [End Page 270]
Suzanne Cleary’s Beauty Mark won the 2012 John Ciardi Prize for Poetry, and was published by BkMk Press (U of Missouri–Kansas City). Winner of a Pushcart Prize, she teaches as core faculty in the lowresidency MFA in Creative Writing Program of Converse College.