He's just across the street from me as I'm waiting for the bus. He's focused intently on something in the gutter. He reaches both hands for it, carefully, stooping down, he scoops at empty air, gently gently handling nothing, bringing nothing close to his chest, cradling nothing tenderly, he steps around in a circle, letting nothing go, he begins all over again.
I can't take my eyes off him. What does he see? What is he holding with such delicacy? His hair hangs down over his face, I can't read his expression, but he performs these actions over and over, with variations: now he is cradling with both hands, now one hand holds while the other supports - what - a baby's head? Is he rescuing babies in the street? Or kittens?
Or something else, something of inestimable value? Something I can't - with all my busy-ness - begin to imagine?
He shakes his hair back, and I see his face for a few seconds. He smiles at whatever he holds. He looks like Viggo Mortensen, dirty face, long hair, beard. But his beard is trimmed. He wears a clean corduroy jacket - if slightly worn at the elbows - clean khakis. As he steps around in his turn, I see a wallet in his back pocket.
Who was he, before his doors of perception were thrown open, when he could tell the difference between the world Out There and the world In Here?
My bus comes, and I get on. It's time for me to be back at work, but I turn in my seat and watch him as we pull away. Do I know you?, I think. Do I know you?