Summer 1992 • Vol. XIV No. 3 PoetryJuly 1, 1992 |

The Pal Lunch

   after Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks," 1942 The year of my birth, my father's café. But it's not my father behind the counter bending to look for matches, a lock of blond hair falling over his forehead like a thought he brushes away. He stuffs that hair back under the creased white hat shaped like the soldiers' caps they must all have worn, those short-order cooks who were also waiters, the owners. He's commenting on the empty stools, how he likes this hour, when people are few, when most have drifted away, their hands in their pockets. No, my father's the one in the gray fedora, my mother's beside him. In a reversal like dream, they're the customers, leaning easily on elbows, heavy white coffee mugs steaming before them. He's just asked for a light. He'd tried to strike up a conversation with the man whose back is to us, but no dice. That man is tired, a little drunk. So the one behind the counter and my father talk of the war, the draft. They can't know the blond ma

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