Studio album by Van Morrison
I submitted this piece last week to a fiction contest put on by a local alternative newspaper. The inspiration came from listening to Van Morrison on the internet radio station, Pandora, for many hours at work. His biography on Pandora describes him as a “wild poet sorcerer”…an apt description based on my personal reaction to his music. The music is ethereal and his lyrics create colorful, vivid images in my mind. For this piece, I wanted to capture the original images I experienced when listening to his songs while staying true to the song’s feeling. I chose “And the Healing Has Begun” because I was drawn to the prominent role of the drums, piano, and violin, and I wanted to use their sounds in physical descriptions to help re-create the feeling of the song in an inventive way. Suggestion: listen to the song first (via YouTube, etc).
Note: I tried to encourage the sense of continuous motion by structuring sentences as borderline run-ons. It was an intentional deviation from my natural writing style.
Inside a Song
(“And the Healing Has Begun” by Van Morrison)
Bum..bum..bum..bum..A young man’s heavy boots hit the dirt road as he walks with his hands swinging slowly at his side. His dark green pants are tucked into the top of his boots, and he wears a black pocket vest with a t-shirt underneath. He moves steadily with his mouth still and his eyes looking ahead. Sparse grass grows down the middle of the road. On the other side, a young woman is walking next to him. She’s wearing a short red sundress with lots of buttons and small flowers and a pair of boots on her feet. Her hair is long and a hat with a red ribbon sits on top of her head. Their shoulders are square against the sky.
Tall trees with yellow leaves line both sides of the road. Some of the leaves drop in the wind with the back and forth motion of the bow on the violin. Beyond the trees, fields of green grass grow in all directions. The early morning sun shines sideways through the grass making it look yellow, and through the yellow leaves on the trees making them glow. It’s just the trees and the grass and the man’s arms swinging and the woman’s arms swinging and their boots hitting the dirt. He doesn’t look at her and she doesn’t look at him but they are walking together and that is enough.
Beyond the dirt road and the trees and the grass is a city with paved roads and tall buildings. The young man and young woman glance to see each other for the first time as they leave behind the dirt road and the trees and the grass.
The road is now paved and painted white traffic lines pass under their feet. They walk past trees planted in the sidewalk, brown brick buildings, white brick buildings, dogs running, shops with neon lights in the windows, shopkeepers sweeping, more white lines, more trees in the cement. Their steps shorten with the staccato notes from the piano and the traffic lines pass a little faster under their feet. He turns to her and stretches out his hand. In her mind she is falling like the violin leaves as there on the street she takes his hand. They pick up again and she holds his fingers tight as her knees push higher to keep with his. They move faster, past trees planted in the sidewalk, brown brick buildings, white brick buildings, dogs running, shops with neon lights in the windows, shopkeepers sweeping, more white lines under their feet, more trees in the cement.
Her dress ripples in the wind like the sounds of the violin. On a sidewalk he grabs her and puts both hands on her waist. He lifts her in the air and as he spins her she lets her head fall back with a short laugh that was long in coming. He puts her back on the ground and lets go of her waist and she takes his hand and they pick up their legs and run quicker and lighter like raindrops on piano keys. Her hair follows her dress and she holds onto her hat with the hand not holding his and the sunshine flickers on them as it cuts through the buildings.
She takes him to a single door on a street and presses against it. They stumble and crawl and laugh up a dusty, crooked staircase with the bum..bum..bum..bum of their boots on the wood. They reach the top and she turns to a door and opens it. She leads him with her hand across the carpet in the front room to the room with the bed. He grabs her and closes her in his arms and they laugh and spin with the violin. His hands are on her waist as he takes her around the familiar room and her hair moves and her dress moves and their hearts beat fast and hot with history and relief and gratitude. She flips through her favorite records, playing and discarding them as they dance and clap and laugh. Records lie on the floor and the bed and picture frames and furniture blur around them. The afternoon light pierces through the blinds in shavings that fall on them. A few years have passed since he’s been in that room with her and the records. But he is back there now and so is she and so is the drumbeat of their boots and their hearts and the piano that lifts their steps and the violin that spins them. They fall onto the bed, out of breath, their stomachs rising and falling.
He walks into the kitchen and fills a teakettle with water and turns the heat on the stove. She sits on the couch with her hands under her thighs and he brings her the cup of tea and she reaches out her hands and sips it. She puts down the cup and they walk back down the dusty, crooked staircase. He crosses the street before her and turns back to look at her on the other side. Holding her hat to her head she steps off the curb onto the street and walks to meet him. She grabs his outstretched hand and they walk slowly down the street past trees planted in the sidewalks, brown brick buildings, white brick buildings, people on the sidewalk, dogs running, shops with neon lights in the windows, shopkeepers sweeping, more white lines under their feet, more trees in the cement.
As they reach the gates at the edge of the city and step off the pavement onto a dirt road with sparse grass down middle, they turn to each other and smile. Leaves fall from the trees in the wind with the back and forth motion of the bow on the violin. In the dusk, the retreating lights quiver like gentle fingers on piano keys.