memory

In November I was in my home town on the other side of the world shopping with my father at the Flour Mill, the Flour Mill on the river I first remember for its tobacco shop where he would go to fill his pipe. There was a small neon lighted Chinese café in the basement that I had never noticed, and my father wanted to stop and have an egg roll. I wasn’t hungry but ordered tea. It was run by a Chinese couple, both around 50. The woman told me green tea brings calmness, and handed me a cup with a saucer she said she painted herself. Then, she pointed to the paintings on the wall, glorious watercolors of Asian landscapes, and said she painted those also, that she’s a “starving artist.” Then she asked me what kind of music I like, classical music? I said sure. She put Chopin in the stereo: “this is my daughter’s CD, she is studying in New York, classical piano.” My father ate his egg rolls and I whispered how I wanted to buy lunch now, to stop the artists from starving. He said that’s just like you, and the Chinese man threw us candies, his only customers, laughing with artist cooks. There was a bamboo fan on the wall, identical to one hanging in my apartment in Maine, that my friend gave me a week before he died. My father told the couple that I live in Maine and the man asked me if I fish. I told him that for sport, I practice wishing. I bought the Chopin CD by their daughter and they put me on a mailing list for concert announcements and we promise to meet each other again in New York City.

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