New York City, December 17, 2012

[No stars] Lightless again; damp, dull, and chill. A cold headwind gathered strength with each step away from home. Sparrows hopped around the A-C/B-D platform at Columbus Circle, two levels down from the out-of-doors. A no-passengers train, interior darkened, rolled through the station. Down by Lafayette Street, around a corner, people surrounded a young woman who lay huddled on a sheet of cardboard. One of them bent over her solicitously and rearranged some scattered matchbooks, a tableau of fake suffering, as another stepped back with a camera. Now and then the wind carried tiny flecks of drizzle, so small they barely registered as wet, but as pinpricks of a colder cold. In the fading afternoon, someone in the next apartment building was shooting flash photographs in a room with the lights off—a nagging, intermittent stimulus to the peripheral vision, which was otherwise ready to quit for the day.