A man sleeps in the sun on a bench across from the hospital. On the bench
diagonally opposed, across and beside him, an almost-doctor eats cold noodles.
The man has his pants low, half cracked, and his hands on his genitals. We all
sleep sometimes with a hand in our pants.
Across the street and inside silver doors, patients rest on foam boards. A few
sleep less peacefully than the man on his concrete. Some inside the hospital are
homeless. There’s a man inside who when asked about other problems (I meant
medical), he said, “My feet are dry.” We looked together. His heels flaked on the
bleached sheets. There’s a man with wild eyes and beard. I saw him standing
just inside his doorway, gowned in yellow (a visible color, for patients who
wander). Later I hurried by again. He stood in the same liminal place, arms at the
same tight angles, but in his own clothes.
“Is there anything that can be done for him?” A woman in a cardigan approached
and now asks my short white coat about the man on the bench.
“He’s going to get sunburned,” she says.
Is he breathing? I think instead of answer.
It’s hard to tell. It is still difficult for me to watch for chest rise and fall in someone
sleeping with hands down his pants. I don’t even know how to help the people in
“I’ll ask,” I try to say. My voice squeaks it into a question. The blonde bob follows
me inside. She informs security.
I remember later, peak out the seventh-floor window, and the man is gone.