(After the painting by Edward Hopper)
She sits at her Singer, its heavy
black bulk on a base of iron, indestructible,
weighted to the floor for her complicated coaxing,
the sole of a clever foot. She’s in control of all
but her unpinned hair, stripped to a camisole,
altering a dress for a date. It’s a feminine imperative,
certain as the cotton reel’s spin,
the sure steel spike that pistons at her fingertips.
Rooms shrink swiftly in a New York summer,
baked in yellow brick, sweat pearls on vertebrae.
Surviving is a struggle for a single girl,
but a force tilts her head to it,
guides her fingers through the art of making do.
Here she claims a space for her own iron weight:
no need to worry, she won’t be late.
Paul McDonald is Course Leader for Creative Writing at the University of Wolverhampton. He is the author of several novels, critical books, and has poetry collections with Flarestack, Cinnamon Press, and Indigo Dreams Press. His poems and stories have won prizes and been shortlisted in numerous competitions including the Ottakar’s/Faber & Faber Poetry Competition, the John Clare Poetry Prize, the Sentinel Prize, the Bedford International Writing Competition, the Retreat West Flash Fiction Prize, and the Bridport Prize.