The man standing in the foreground, successfully cuts off the distant horizon line we can see to either side of his stooped shouldered, lanky frame. He is either chewing on a fingernail or picking his teeth with it in an attempt to clear a particularly stubborn piece of food.
While his body is in profile his head is turned slightly away from us, and what he is looking at is unclear. Truth be told there doesn't appear to be anything to look at aside from stubble poking through fields of snow that surround the frozen dirt road his sneakers are perched on. Moreover, you feel like something isn't quite right. Has he survived some horrible shock? Is he the veteran of one of America's wars, one of the forgotten who have come home damaged more by what they've seen or had to do than any physical scars can bear out?
The sky is as white as the road he stands on, but endless. In one of those weird tricks of light or perspective it looks like it might end at the mountain range in the background. For a moment it makes it look like the man on the road is girded in by walls and a ceiling. But that thought is ridiculous, so it can be dismissed easily, although the next time you look at the image it comes back to you again just as strong.
The picture I've done my best to describe is the cover of a book by David Newsom simply called Skip. Perceval Press has published this loving collection of images of Newsom's brother living a life freed from the confines of the institutions. He tells of how when his mother died, his older brother and sister had taken Skip to Iowa where they had land and settled him in a group home.
Skip had never lived outside of New Jersey, never outside of an urban area, and now he was in the wide-open spaces of the Teton Valley in Iowa. On his first visit in 1994 when he and his mom came out he seemed to fall in love with it. In 2005, after Skip had lived there four years, David Newsom reports that his sister wrote to say that at first she had been scared of him wandering town on his own – but now, she jokes, he's "mayor".
It's like when they were kids again because she is known once more as Skip's little sister. She ends it on a note both funny and touching. "Skip can be trusted to take the (4) dogs around the thirteen acres without any of them disappearing. Now if he could just learn to brush his own teeth before he turns sixty…"