Quiet out this morning. No sound of wind, dim in the pre-dawn light. As I walked down the block towards the cafe, my usual walk, I saw what looked at first like a small pile of rags on the sidewalk. Coming closer, I saw that it was something more … not rags at all. It was a person, a woman, sleeping in the lee of a fence, almost lost amidst the rags that were her clothes and some newspaper she used as pillow and bedding.

 I’d seen this woman walking around the neighborhood a few days before, and sleeping on the bench at the bus stop. Her clothes always enshroud her, only the barest glimpse of her face is visible when she’s standing upright and walking. I had thought she lived in one of the houses in the neighborhood.

 Sleeping on the sidewalk, homeless most likely. I stepped off the sidewalk into the street to pass, did not disturb her. And thought of her off and on during the day.



 The shipyard was across the street from the LensWork offices where I was attending a workshop last October. They’d just rolled the bow section into place that day on this rig tender and were welding it into the hull. The foreman was a good guy. “Hmm, pictures. Well, I’ll have to arrange it with the boss, you’ll need hard hat and steel toe boots, but if you have the time stop by tomorrow around ten, he’ll be in the office.”

 I didn’t, no time, but I walked back with my camera and tripod late that night and set it up to shoot the tender before its skin went on. The layers of bulkheads, passageways, structural supports … A marvel how everything fits together, joins up, so precisely.

 My mind drifted this morning as I walked, after I saw the woman on the sidewalk. I listened to the silence, the heavy air, and watched as a few lights went on here, and there again, and there … people waking up, beginning their day, beginning to move through their homes. The sun rose, traffic picked up, but somehow that dawn silence stayed with me.

 It wasn’t very far that I’d gone, but it was a long time before I wandered back home again.