The End of the Sidewalk

For a long time I stood there. For a very long time I stood there. I stood and I thought, “Does the sidewalk really end?” For a long time I watched my shadow grow on the sidewalk. For a long time I watched my shadow grow with the setting sun, only to fade and disappear with the night. I looked for Orion, my constellation in the starry sky. I watched him rise and then I watched him dip down in the sky to return to his slumber. I watched people come and I watched them go. I saw them walk in lines along the sidewalk. After a while, there were no more people. I thought about people I knew who were dead. I thought about people I knew that I never saw, I would never see again. I thought about spent fortunes and lost empires. I remembered words I would soon forget, words I knew everyone had forgotten. I looked for faces of friends in my mind and knew they were no longer there. I thought of seasons changing, or growing old and dying. But I watched the sidewalk keep going, forever.

As I stood there, a bus drove by. On the side of the buys were the words, “The future is here. We are it. We are it. The world is not a tomb.” The world is not a tomb. “No,” I thought, “not yet.” But I thought about where the sidewalk ends as I watched the day end and then the night. Everything ends. These days end. Friendships end. Love? Everyone knows that love ends. Everything ends, and one day, I will end. One day, even this sidewalk will end.

And, as I watched, I saw the trees die. I saw the buildings crumble. I saw the stars twinkle away. I watched the world end, but I kept my eyes on the sidewalk. And, finally, against my will, I saw the sidewalk end.

April 11, 1996

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5 responses to “The End of the Sidewalk

  • dtdeedge

    This was an important piece when it was written. I was attempting to move from traditional poetry to a more prose-like format. It is the beginning of a demise in my poetry, in my opinion. I couldn’t see it at the time, but writing this was overly comfortable, and ultimately led me out of poetry.

    Ironically, the form of this piece actually takes away from the message. The structure of the paragraphs limits the voice here, and cripples at least one critical thought pattern weaving through. It is painful and humbling to see that I did not achieve the message that I had hoped.

    I wonder if I should rewrite it as a poem?

  • Eric Alagan

    For me, the message was – living in the end and ignoring the present. Perhaps this was not your intent, but this is what I perceived.

    I don’t normally worry too much about rhyme, rhythm, cadence, timber, etc – for me the message is all important. If you can get the message across – you’ve got me 🙂

    All the theories and technicalities – I leave to the professors and their believers. During his time, even Homer was looked down as a mere “scribbler”.

    Peace,
    Eric

    • dtdeedge

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Eric. I’ve never worked much at cadence or rhythm in my poetry. Some have a hint of it, but most don’t. I cannot rhyme my work for some reason. I just will not.

      Again, thanks for the comments – they are important.

  • andrewrivera314

    I think it would be easy, though unnecessary, to rework this into a poem. Your use of repetition and interjected thoughts lends rhythm to the piece. Your imagery (Orion, the bus, the “Apocalypse”) keeps the reader engaged. Loved the line, “I remembered words I would soon forget.”

    I think the hallmark of a good writer is dissatisfaction. Your self-critique is telling, in that regard. Keep writing/rewriting!

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