Saturday, August 8, 2009

River of hope~

There was a woman taking a nap on the granite bench that curves along the river walk running through downtown Providence. She had on several layers of clothing despite the warm August sun, and used her backpack as a pillow. I stood photographing city architecture from my place nearby. She must have heard the click of the camera's shutter .

"No pictures of me," she said sitting up to swing her legs up on the bench in the opposite direction.

"No, I wouldn't. I won't," I assured her. Then I asked, "Do people take your picture?"

Truly, I'd thought briefly of doing so--a photo journalistic impulse, a poignant documentation of the sadder, sorrier side of life. In honesty, I might have taken a picture had I been using my zoom lens from farther away where she might not have noticed me. I've been tempted at other times, with other homeless folk, although something always holds me back from what feels like a blatant invasion of privacy.

"Lot's of people do," she said, and then angry words delivered in a measured tone, "I tell them they better stop, or I'll grab their God damned camera, and I'll . . .

She was already lying down again with her back to the river and me. Her words became indecipherable

"Oh, well, they deserve that," I said lamely as I walked away. I'd deserve that, I suppose, had I given in to impulse.

And I left her lying there beside a bridge with Rhode Island's symbolic brass anchor--HOPE--shining in the summer sun for all who walk beside the river to see.

But not for all to feel. Some people see the flip side of hope.

Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without words, and never stops at all. ~Emily Dickinson