Pawtucket Vignettes 1.

Beautiful homeless men across from the Pawtucket Visitors Center, sitting on benches next to their black garbage bags– willing themselves invisible, waiting for the day to begin. Walking the dog, a hesitation…discomfort. I consider a turn around. Then I think about my grandfather. I never knew him, but he was what they used to call a traveling “pen man”. He rode freight trains from town to town searching for work as a calligrapher for newspapers. Not able to sustain family life, he’d left my grandmother and 6 kids in Vermont, and wasn’t seen again until he died of sterno poisoning in The Vermont State Hospital for the Insane. I guess he was a good man, just couldn’t go the straight route, a drunk, yes, but a gypsy and a talent and a heartbreak. One of those homeless men, at one time, could have been my grandfather and there and then they were all my grandfathers and despite myself I walked past and said some good mornings- not slowing down or speeding up, casual, as though they weren’t homeless, as though they didn’t look homeless, as though they belonged there as much as I did.

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