the years seemed but days

With sun-sweat beading,
He shines my shoes while telling
Me old stories. Tip.

photo: Osvaldo Zoom



A white man ran after a black man about 20 feet behind him on 84th and Broadway in mid-afternoon one day last fall.

I stopped with others and watched; moments earlier I had got off the subway at 86th and done my customary walk down Broadway to turn west at 84th toward home. The two men ran at full speed east across Broadway, ran under the AMC theater marquis and toward 83rd. The black man shot back over Broadway, heading west, the white man still running just as fast, now nearly catching up. I looked to see if the black man was holding anything. Unclear. Maybe 70 to 80 people stood motionless along Broadway on both sides and watched. Cars stopped and a few drivers got out and draped their arms over their doors, also watching. A few people held their hands over their mouths and turned to each other, whispering.

Now, the black man—tall, thin, in his mid-30s—ran up Broadway on the west side, in the street, toward the corner where I and a few others were standing. He had come almost full circle from where I first saw him. I thought this odd, that he would be headed back this way. He ran next to the median, in between the cars in the left lane and the 3-foot high concrete barrier.

A small animal ran ahead of him in the street. The black man caught up to it and, reaching down with both hands, scooped it up in his arms. He held high over his head a small brown and black dog, perhaps a silky terrier. The white man came up behind the black man, and the black man handed the dog to him. A white woman came running out from the east side of Broadway to the two men and was given the dog.

People on both sides of Broadway gasped, and then we all clapped.

photo: Baba Zuwa