After Eden: Hopper’s Pennsylvania Coal Town

After Eden

he made his way to Pennsylvania
tracing the coal seam with bruised feet
past the patch towns out from Pittsburgh—
Muse and Manifold, Colver, Collier and Hazelton,
a dam on Little Chartiers Creek.

He coughed the haze that hung over
heaps of spoil tip and gob pile
barren banks of bing and culm,
and in the shadow of a hopper car
he paused and peered ahead

into the late afternoon, just as years later
he would lean on his level-head rake
and stare down the corridor of yard
between houses, stunned at the bath
of light that now shone even here

on the fronds behind him and the tufts
of grass creeping over the concrete edge.
How warm the glow on his bare head,
how familiar and kind.


Edward Hopper’s Pennsylvania Coal Town courtesy of Butler Institute of American Art

Karl Plank

Karl Plank’s recent poetry has appeared in publications such as Notre Dame Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, New Madrid, Spiritus, Still, Exit 7, and Poetry Daily. A past winner of the Thomas Carter Prize (non-fiction, Shenandoah), he is the J.W. Cannon Professor of Religion at Davidson College.