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What Is This Boy Thinking About?

A photo essay.

At the edge of a wading pool in Sunset Park, a little boy is standing as the other children gather and disperse in play. He is perched there with a fixed curiosity, and his wire-rimmed glasses, attached to a chain around his neck, give him the look of an old man; he has the worried eyebrows, the unchecked gaze, the uncompromising posture. I see him as I see the nearby men engaged in their games of chess, their attention at once leisurely and tense with anticipation. Anticipating what, I don’t know. This is a rehearsal, perhaps, for the children’s sake—to show them how to navigate between play and seriousness, between wit and chore.