At the Corner of Shipyard and Independence
Since Christmas, four elderly drifters—possibly headed farther south for the winter—have stood at the crossroads as human signs. Paid by the day to advertise for the local gym, they have brandished placards that read Lose Weight Now! Only $19.95 a month! Times are tough. Memberships are down all over town. And the shabby, skinny men do draw attention.
But this morning they are gone. I idle at the light, waiting for the green arrow, wondering where the men are now—it is so cold today. Cars turn left toward the mall and the university, trucks pass by in the oncoming lane headed for the port and its towers of metal containers filled with imported goods waiting to be hauled across America.
In the scrub that grows in the corners of this intersection, a redbird bursts into song on a myrtle branch that’s tangled with old tinsel. And on the gravel shoulder, a crow picks through a scattered bag of trash, warblers perch on the tips of briars to warm themselves in the sun. We are nothing compared to these winter birds—who find here, of all places, what they need.