I stare at the grate. Of all the things I could stare at--old, brick buildings, the giant, ten-spout fountain, mature trees, beautiful people--I stare at this metal grid. “No dumping. Drains to waterway.” Shame colors my perspective like construction scaffolds color Humanities bright orange and gray. There are 26 bricks between the grate and my left foot, in a hopscotch pattern. I never played hopscotch. I am undeserving.

The lamp post is short in perspective with the trees and tall in perspective with the people. I try lying down on the rocky, concrete bench, try sitting up, focus on the tones of the conversations. The conversations leave with the feet that carefully avoid the grate. Some ballet flats, some sandals. They must not have shin splints and tendon pains that force them to keep their pretty shoes in canvas boxes. They must look up at each other and not at sewer grates.

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