Daniel Nathan Terry

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.

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