The American Dream

by Hannah McCage

Behind the face of every stranger is a frightened child, lonely for the comfort of a womb to crawl into. Beneath the ocean of wrinkles drowning old men extend the warm tips of fingers reaching for the moon and the stars. For the heavens above.

These men and children are playful bandits of misery and love. They claim the streets are a warm bed, and a good night’s sleep is the dream of dead soldiers and the discipline of living mannequins.

I met a man of bones and shadow who sang with a broken tongue, about duty and trash, about youthful days chasing life by the tail and the head. Tunes of heartache, like a man feels in his feet after walking for miles just to feel the breeze. Songs of changing weather and anxiety from the thunder and clouds.

He sang to me slowly with a voice full of sorrow, nurturing each word as he spoke: “Garbage country. . . by God, the streets are gold. . . my pa taught me. . . where was I to go?”

He was such a sad and lovely man whose face I would never know. A lonely child, clinging to ragged clothes and newspaper blankets in the cold. Held up only by an old wooden cane and the songs he sang.

He was starving mad, hungry for the American Dream. The world was his friend and the world was his enemy.