Wide Streets

I awoke this morning from a dream in a peculiar mood. I was in such an odd mood because it had been an unusual dream. Set as in a music video, it featured Bruce Springsteen singing a song with the above title while walking down a broad city street somewhat like Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco. It was not Van Ness only similar. This street consisted of six lanes of traffic, separated by a tree-lined median with traffic congested like a mid-week morning. It was a surprising dream mostly because I have not seen such streets since leaving the city.

I live, at present, on the outskirts of Williamsburg, Virginia. There are no such wide streets here. In the dream, Bruce sang from the perspective of a small town boy at a loss in a big city. As I lay thinking about this dream, I thought about writing poetry or a song of my own around this theme. The more I contemplated the circumstance, the more I realized it would be necessary for me to view the topic in reverse that is to say from the perspective of the big city boy caught in a small town. I was also convinced that prose would be my more likely medium.

Since I was a boy, I have had little ear for poetry. I have always listened to music (songs) focusing mostly on the melody. As one who spent much time singing lyrics, this may sound like an odd statement. I never did focus much, however, on the lyrics to songs; I found melodies much more compelling. In the end, I felt I would be more comfortable writing in prose form about the mood engendered by this dream.

Getting back to the dream, Bruce walked along an urban sidewalk, as I have said, with the camera following just in front of him. When he gained the broad boulevard, he crossed to what appeared to be a local bar. There he strapped on a guitar and a female guitarist joined him. This happened without comment or justification just as it happens in music videos. An intricate guitar figure juxtaposed with the action.

I have tried to recall this figure without success. Oh well, one more original lost to the ether; not to mind, I would not have been able to play it, in any case. Just then, the guitarist played a truly compelling little figure, compelling because it struck in the heart and in the mind. In the mind, because of its simple yet beautiful form and in the heart because of the way it moved me, in the way only music can inspire.

She, the guitarist, leaned over and shared a kiss with another girl there. This, again, was apropos of nothing presumably some tacit thread of the narrative. This surprised me as well as I have seen no homosexuals since I have been in Virginia. Local life comprises a very vanilla realm. This does not surprise me; it merely is what it is. This being a predominantly rural area, deviation from the conventional, like as not, baffles people. Like the streets, people have a penchant for the (straight and) narrow.

Somewhere in the distance, a train sounded its plaintive whistle, the lonely wail embodying my sense of displacement. Out under cloak of darkness, the railroad cars rumbled into the dark distance, a distance out of my reach, at present, a distance full of broad avenues and a broad diversity of culture. Perhaps one day, all this and more will be open to me. Until such time, I may as well abide the narrow streets, not blind acceptance, mind you, merely marking time like that simple guitar figure until that train comes along.

© Stephen Alexander 2008

Wide Streets

stephen hewitt

Lanexa, United States

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Artist's Description

Awakening from a dream

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