On the Avenue A side of Tompkins Square Park near the corner of East 7th Street
the samaritans of Street Ministries distribute blankets, hot coffee and prayer
from the back of a white school bus. The homeless gather round. Some lean
on shopping carts others bent by despair balance between this world a possible
next. Once in possession of a blanket, they disperse into the park, curl themselves
onto benches till blanketed bodies on benches are as common as the naked
One of the homeless, a brute about six four, barrel chested, thick thighed
like a professional hockey player ignores the blankets. He rotates his neck
and arms, does jumping jacks to keep warm, as if to demonstrate that his body
is its own blanket, thus leaving one more for one other.
The samaritan puts the last blanket into the next pair of waiting hands, empties
the coffee pot into a styrofoam cup, bids peace to those who linger. The white
bus sputters off. The remaining gather their things, disperse in all directions.
The brute goes into the park, lies on the frozen ground, raises one
leg then the other. One leg after the other, over and over again.