I was living in an apartment on a hill above downtown.
There was a view of Lake Union from the bathroom window.
I would pack my swimming gear and my
Laptop into my backpack and
Glide down the hill on my bike
I would swim laps in the small basement pool at the YMCA,
Then go across the street to the public library.
I’d find my study carrel,
Usually the same one on the second floor,
And set up:
Laptop, CD player,
A secret snack in the backpack at my feet.
The library was full of homeless people.
Homeless men, boys, girls.
Gutter punks who rode the rails to this corner of our nation.
The young boys and girls
Pierced and tattooed and tired and wary under
Black sweatshirt hoods.
The older men were ragged and bearded in
Dusty military fatigues.
I’d see the same ones often.
They would put their heads down on the desk
For a few minutes of sleep before a security guard would
Nudge them awake.
I would look up,
Pausing to ruminate, and
Consider these folks.
They felt like my co-workers.
If I ever had to get up to use the bathroom,
I had to take everything with me,
Or it would be gone when I returned.
Meanwhile, the dimensions of my surroundings,
The mountain ranges to the east and west,
The narrow plunges and curves of the city streets,
Helped frame up the space I’d made for myself