(After the painting by Edward Hopper)
Are sitting in a line with their
faces turned toward it,
like a cinema you shut your eyes at.
Men wearing suits, women hats and scarfs,
smart enough for tea with the vicar.
They could be waiting for the bride,
the first queen bee of the season.
Infinitely patient, smiling at
the weak spring heat,
they’re tuned to splitting seeds
deep within the warming soil,
early squeak of shoots in coleoptiles.
This yellow sky swells imperceptibly,
a season’s first breath, slow drawn.
One among the bathers sits apart.
He’s seen it all before, bends to a book
like a man tired of waiting for the future:
the thought he might make sense of it.
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.