Not far from the ruins of the A.J. Mine, Aki and I pass a woman sleeping in the front seat of an old SUV. I hope she doesn’t have children cuddling together in the car’s luggage area. After passing her in silence, we drop down Boroff Way—nothing more than metal stairs crooked enough for a fairy tale—to reach South Franklin Street. Ravens croak and a flock of red polls chit and swirl overhead. But I can barely hear them over the sound of a motorized barge warming up. The bargemen will work overtime today to get the new cruise ship dock ready for the first Princess boats in May.
On South Franklin several homeless people make their way to the Glory Hole for breakfast. One pulls a wheeled suitcase behind him. Weak sunlight glints off the plastic with which he has wrapped his bedroll. Three homeless, gray haired, dressed in faded gear, have jammed themselves onto a Marine Park bench. Others stand along a nearby railing. In a tree above them, a raven roosts in silence. The homeless stare out at a channel empty of boats, birds or whales. Are they looking at from where their came? With a decent boat, they could use the channel to reach their home village or even take the Inside Passage to Seattle.
Later and blocks away up Main Street, I’ll hear my first robin song of the year. But in this place where Juneau’s homeless pass the day, robins rarely sing.