So many dusks have piled up here, identical blurs,
collected like discarded cans of used motor oil.
This is a landscape where you might expect
something startling to occur
at civilization’s last outpost before the frontier—
a spaceship to appear overhead,
a blonde wearing red lipstick and driving a red convertible
to pull up seeking directions to Hollywood.
But nothing like that ever happens in this place,
just the hunched shoulders of an innocuous
middle-aged man checking on his three red gas pumps
with their insufferably blank white faces
bolted upright alongside a deserted dirt road
that empties abruptly into pine woods.

Hopper’s buildings and shadows
are always more expressive than the people
who reside in space that feels unoccupied.
So, Gas is less about the attendant and his gas pumps
than the vista of trees and sky
that exact a quiet whimper
from the man himself—or is it the viewer
who makes this utterance—as both are overwhelmed
by the certain nature of Nature’s indifference.

And while the man tries to keep busy,
his station clean and well-lighted, open for business,
the only business to be conducted on this road tonight
concerns an aging man and his thoughts
as darkness descends around him,
and darker still lurks further down the road
at the receding vanishing point, that bend
where the forest dissolves into green pines
gone shapelessly black.



Tony Magistrale
Latest posts by Tony Magistrale (see all)