Marvin Likes Books About Building Things

He likes to read about how to use tools in carpentry and construction. It's hard to find books like that anymore, he says. It's a Wednesday, and he's headed to see the giant Navy ships come into port, since he still hasn't found a job, and so the day is wide open. It's a gray day at Skidmore Fountain, and chilly. I watch two police officers on horses rouse a group of three people, sleeping amid a tangle of bicycles and shopping carts, sleeping bags and plastic bags. The cops pause to have their pictures taken with a group of school children on a field trip. Then they go back to rousing the people. One of those just wakened is a kid who looks to be fifteen or sixteen. He paces around, agitated, and when he passes close to me, I ask if he'd like a book. He shakes his head and looks away, and I can feel the misery radiating off him.