Along the streets of the town of Tar Harbor, the lights came on and the cats came out as Walter slowly cleaned his teeth. After dark, a breeze came up off the Pacific, ringing the windchimes that hung in his little patio. This was one of his few consolations, since the church closed down. Walter missed the church. But it was now a bookstore/ coffeehouse. They still burned lots of incense, so he would go there sometimes and sit, watching the light gray smoke rise to the ceiling carved and painted blue and touched in better times by cherubim.
Poetry never saved anyone from anything, but after he ate his tacos, Walter went to “church.” He drank coffee and read a book on Robert Frost with New England photos. Then he felt the first tightness spread across his chest, arise from his left armpit, coming slowly like a night blooming cactus, fulfilling itself in the right jawbone and ear. Stands of white birches filtering sunrise. He put his hand over his mouth and burped; after a while, the pressure passed. Standing in a barnyard, an ancient hand plow gone to rust. He got up and left, taking a last glance to the counter, at the college girl who was making cappuccino. He forgot about the pain.
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