Chapter one: Sandy's Dreams
Duke’s, a bar in downtown Albuquerque, is housed in a short in width, but long in length, building. The Fire Marshall sets the capacity at 75, but 50 fills it up nicely when the 50 are large and in charge Western men. The bar’s regulars include a few old power-houses of the business community and a few ranchers from around New Mexico. The proximity to the convention center provides foot traffic of guests from out of state. Duke’s isn’t the largest or trendiest establishment in the metropolitan area. If you are an up and coming rising star in the business or social world of Albuquerque, you will want to go elsewhere. If you are an established business owner, politician, or rancher, then you will go to Duke’s in order not to be seen. The game is never on. There is no live music. There is stable bar staff who will get to know you by name and, if you are a tipper, will pour stiff drinks.
After 10 p.m., when the regulars are gone and the tourists or out of towners are tired of the other bar scene, Duke’s is happening! It is usually over packed and noisy with music blaring from the stereo speakers. Sandy, the assistant manager for the last three years, is a stern, no-nonsense type of woman who believes in keeping control. She is usually successful. If not, she has established a good working relationship with the police patrol. The patrol routinely has concerns with other bars in the area in terms of over-serving, under-aged serving and narcotic trafficking. Precisely because they so seldom have that type of trouble with Duke’s and are grateful, police response to any issues at Duke’s is especially quick.
Sandy never thought she would be working in a bar let alone managing it, but she doesn’t mind working the long hours, closing shifts or even split shifts. Her requirements are that Monday through Friday she is at home when her daughter gets there from school.
It had been an adjustment three years ago to have her, then 12 year old daughter, stay alone at night by herself. The fact that Sandy is able to cook Isadora breakfast, help her prepare for school and can be there when she comes home from school makes it a better job than the clerical jobs she had worked in since moving to Albuquerque. Plus, she is a few blocks away in an emergency and the neighbors in the condominium complex keep an eye out for Isadora. Sandy likes that she works when Isadora is sleeping and naps when Isadora is at school. Still, rotating shifts, long hours on her feet and disjointed sleeping hours often leave this 46 year old single mother sleep deprived and tired.
This Saturday morning in May, Sandy leaves the bar in early morning. There is a verse repeating in her mind. It is the first poem she has ever written and it started with a strange dream.
When Sandy woke on Friday morning, she listened to see if Isadora was up. All was quiet in the condominium. Why in the hell was she awake so early? Sandy was used to waking up with a drowsy feeling of wanting to snooze, but forcing herself out of bed. This morning there was no drowsiness, no restless feeling of aches or pain, no memories of a dream-bad or good, no recollection of a noise - wind or a siren that might have roused her from her slumber. She had been sound asleep and now was awake. She decided to try and return to sleep. As she closed her eyes, her mind's eye saw only blue.. Sandy had seen a green screen on a movie set she visited. The actors acted in front of a green screen where images could be portrayed onto the screen later. The image in her mind was that all around her was a sky blue. She did not notice a screen. She assumed it was a blue screen (like the green screen of the movie set) because it wouldn’t make sense for her to see everything against a background of blue unless she was looking at a blue screen. She saw a brief image of herself as a teenager, as if on display, on the blue screen. Her hair was the bright red it was in her youth. Then she faded. Words began to repeat over and over in her mind. Her brain was repeating words which she also saw displayed on the screen of blue in white blocked print. She felt a sense of urgency. It was really important that she remembered these words. Why else would her brain be repeating them? .Sandy sat up, turned on the reading light above her head, and grabbed the notebook she kept on the nightstand. She wrote the words down as if waking up and jotting down a grocery list. She wasn't really aware that she was writing a poem. She simply wrote down the words she had seen on the screen.
When Isadora come home from school Friday afternoon Sandy asked the mother’s routine question: “how was school?” Isadora groaned, they had been studying poetry, so boring! Yes, Sandy thought, that was always her reaction to studying poetry.
Now, walking home from work Saturday morning and repeating the verse from her dream, the words are not a shopping list, but a poem that she wrote. Then, she stops. Did she write this poem? Did she conjure it up from some subconscious place she visited in her dreams. Did this poem come from her? No, more like it came through her. Through her describes it better. She ponders the verse, as she mentally repeats it. Is the poem any good? How in the Hell would she ever know?
Sandy stops short. The woman in his heart? It is a song of romantic love! She snorts in derision and continues her walk. She has never been in love. No way, no how. It was not something she wanted. Sandy’s has had relationships. Her daughter's father had been married. Now, at her age, she likes to keep a younger man around. She makes no pretense that any of her relationships had ever been more than physical. Why did she write a poem of romantic love? The images of the woman in the poem are of her, but the sentiment and heart of the poem are from a man. . How could that be? How could she write from the point of view of a man? Is she so vain she imagines a man dreaming of her?
Sandy speeds up. She has reached a block on her path on which she dares not idle. The walk clears her brain. By the time she reaches home, she thinks "why does it matter?" It wasn't her nature to think long on her dreams. Still, she felt a pride. It had been so long since she felt it, it seemed an alien emotion. Since her dance career ended, she has accomplished nothing more than raising her daughter on her own. Half the time she felt like her head was barely above water. From her or through her this poem was hers. Of course, it is about her. What she knows is herself. What other topic could she write about? Poetry are usually about love aren't they? Or death or war or flowers? So, love it was.
The creative process! Sandy has always had creative people around her. She was a dancer when younger. Her daughter is the result of a love affair with a married choreographer. Her current boyfriend is a sculptor. Artists create without always knowing the reason for the creation.
Artist? Poet? Sandy wonders if she might create other poems. She hopes so. For now, as she prepares for bed, she repeats her verse softly out loud to herself. After every third or fourth time of mentally repeating the poem she thinks: I am a poet. She imagines what it would be like to tell people, “I work at a bar, but I am really a poet.”