People in the Sun, 1960

Maybe I am not very human. What I wanted
was to paint sunlight on the side of a house.
—Edward Hopper

The men and women stretch on canvas chairs
like starched curtains. Set on a deck that seems

to float unmoored, these five sit tight-lipped
and light-blinded. Although one man in blue neck

scarf and jacket bends over his book as if
on a train, the two couples in front lean back.

The men wear suits, ties. The women, dresses,
one sports a broad-brimmed hat and red scarf.

Are they cold? Clothed for work? Or mannequins
on display. Under a sky bluing above a row of granite

hills, they face grass stiff and yellow as wheat-straw.
Out of bounds, beyond any seascape or even a city

park, only their shadows mingle, blending
below. Does anyone acknowledge another

or is that too much to ask? For them, for Hopper
nearing eighty, for their country roiling toward war

and riots. Have they opted for sun, their orbit
forever, or are they our robots of the future.

Diana Pinckney is the winner of the Ekphrasis Prize, Atlanta Review’s International Poetry Prize and Prime Number Magazine’s 2018 Poetry Prize. She received a Lifetime Achievement in the Literary Arts Award in 2013. Published in RHINO, Cave Wall, Green Mountains Review, Tar River Poetry, The Pedestal Magazine, Still Point Arts Quarterly, & other journals and anthologies, Pinckney has five books of poetry, including 2015’s The Beast and The Innocent.