Half of what I say is meaningless. But I say it just to reach you, Julia.
The Beatles wash in and out of earbuds through November cold. Only he can hear the words; it’s the soundtrack he picked for the world that night.
The crunching of leaves is lost, as is the shush of wind through tiny branches. The steps on pavement are lost too. A woman talking on her phone nearly overtakes him before he notices.
He’s usually so good about that, so alert and on top.
Julia, seashell eyes, windy smile, calls me.
Only the ugly sounds make it through Lennon’s soft guitar. The shake of L tracks above make it through. The honk and squeal of traffic’s near mishaps get past. But not the touch of feet on pavement, not the subtle click as signals change nor the background whispers from the Lincoln Avenue bars.
These are the sounds he’s accustomed to, walking the streets at night. He’s accustomed to the hum and purr of subtle Chicago, of airplanes exhaling above and laughter that tumbles from and fades back to nowhere.
His soundtrack plucks those soft tones away from him.
Julia, sleeping sand, silent cloud, touch me.
A young woman passes him in the opposite direction. The wires from her ears say she’s set a soundtrack for the world too. She hums and looks off into clouds that aren’t there, much like he must be doing.
Under an overpass for long-dead tracks, a tall man in a greatcoat hurries by, cigarillo in one hand and animated conversation on an iPhone in the other. A few blocks down, a woman meanders down the sidewalk, gazing in a Kindle with special reading light attachment.
Each alone in a machine, plucked from each other. No reach. No call. No touch of the world around them.
So I sing a song of love for Julia… Julia… Julia.
He takes John Lennon out of his ears and walks the rest of the way listening to the city.