(After the painting by Edward Hopper)
Intermissions are worse for single women:
the roar into hush, harsh light and exodus.
The story’s half-over and she’s left
to watch the curtain hang, betrayed by visibility.
Who wants to stand alone in the crowded bar?
Rather keep company with empty seats, yawning quiet.
I watch her from the balcony, and wonder.
She feels space around her like an amputee,
checks her expression in her compact,
sustains it for the time it takes the crowd to filter back.
Her dress looks new, like nightfall on her body,
but who will notice that: what hope for the final act?
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.