Journal Square does not bake under harsh sunlight today as it did a week ago when I was here last -- nor is it as busy with a train stuck inside some tunnel under the Hudson River – with trains backed up and the announcer here saying over and over and over again that there will be a delay.
People still come and go, thin crowds coming up the escalators from the stop the announcer still calls “The World Trade Center,” although this isn’t the same World Trade I used to sit under to read more than a decade ago
People come and go with these trains. A man in a broken straw hat struggled to get his bicycle up the stairs, his brown pants, baggy, his sandals slapping the pavement with every step, sweat discolored part of his un-tucked cream-colored shirt as its tail hangs down to the back of his knees.
Self-important men in tucked white shirts and creased black pants yak into cell phones about some deal that has soured or about some private matter that his no business being aired in a public place such as this.
Each train from Wall Street brings a new wave of similar people, men in green shorts, black shoes, white socks and baseball caps, women wearing tight pants that come down just below their knees and even tighter blouses and sunglasses they don’t need with the sky as clouded as it is today.
The pigeons scatter to each approaching set of feet, to resettle on feed on feed no one but they can see.
An man settling flavored ice passes, jangling his hand bell with the was nuns used to back when I was in elementary school, seeking to draw customers to their carts, but managing only to bring over people as poor as they are, while the big shots from Lower Manhattan pretend the ice man or the poor do not exist, and they can’t hear the persisting ring of the bell over the roar of rush hour traffic.
For some reason, I always come early and watch this perpetual dance, unable to tell the difference between the people and the pigeons, all going through the motions of life, pecking at seed none of us can see, seed that can no more sustain us than pieces of stone.