The first in an 8-photo series:
Like a shimmering sculpture chiseled from a block of ice, the statue man perches perfectly still on his box as I approach. From the bauble on his cap to the points of his slippers, silver spray paint coats his apparel. On this tranquil morning on London's Thames River embankment, no one else is around. I'm not sure whether or not to break the silent, frozen spell. But I do. I ask a question.
"Who are you?" I whisper, reluctant to disturb his performance.
"I'm da vizerd," he answers, surprised I spoke. The accent is thick, Eastern European, possibly Bulgarian or Romanian.
"Oh, the wizard, " I realize he's saying.
"Dat's vot I said, da vizerd." He has a beaky intellectual look like a bearded Bulgarian chess player I used to watch beat all comers in the parks and streets of Toronto. But the wizard's watery brown eyes are sad, lonely bloodshot. They speak of solitary nights in small rooms with large bottles, possibly wondering why he's left his home to become a statue man in London. Peering into those doleful eyes, I feel his pain, which is also my own. Immense pity seeps to the surface. Before tears gush, I drop a pound into his box, snap a photo and stride on. I will try to see him later. I marvel at how chance encounters can possess unexpected emotional significance.