The Gazebo

Maine Street, and in the dark the town gazebo sits empty;
The tower of the old parish church rises like my heart
Above the ancient pines that line the lone road home;
The college, whose yellow light-filled windows reflect
The yearning of the young for the wisdom of the old, is quiet;
Bowdoin’s Chapel tolls the hour and my watch softly chimes
The same as I rise from the bench and tighten the scarf about
My neck against the biting cold that numbs the tips of my ears.

Ice-crusted snow crunches beneath my shoes – no skaters tonight;
I pause under the bright white light of a street lamp whose
Frozen light spots me like an actor upon a stage; I have an
Audience of one, I hope, and hurry away to my rendezvous,
Struggling not to slip lest I spoil my clothing or break a bone.
My stomach growls – I should have eaten – but Fat Boys is closed
And I won’t dine on lobster rolls anywhere else, although in Maine
The best lobster rolls anywhere come from the nearest place around town.

The scent of coffee drifts from across Maine Street where Friendly’s
Beckons. I would go, but chatting with Barbara would make me late;
Her conversation is nectar to gossip but never harmful or Ill-meant.
She calls me sugar and honey and smells of french fries; I like her.
I nod to an older couple walking gingerly on the sidtewalk,
Their Dachshund running to keep up or be lost in the snow. Along Park
Row, old sea-captains’ homes cast warm light upon snow-topped shrubs;
The smell of wood burning in fireplaces fills me with youthful nostalgia.

It’s snowing! My heart leaps; I close my eyes, tilt my head back, and
Stick my tongue out. I hold my arms out and spin around. I begin to lose
My balance and open my eyes. I might appear drunk, but it’s good to be silly sometimes when no one is watching and you remember as a kid how much fun
It was to play in the snow until the street lamps came on and you went home
to dinner feeling like a million bucks because Santa Claus was coming. The gazebo was empty and I slowed my pace (any slower and the Dachshund would pass me). General Chamberlain’s eyes followed me from across the street.

I listened for the sound of the powerful turboprops of the P-3 Orion aircraft based at the Naval Air Station beyond the college. With a twinge of sadness, I recalled the base was closed. I became a man there. So long ago. It was almost Time. A study of college students left the sandwich shop across the street.
Their laughter warmed me. I glanced at the gazebo. She was there! I hurried, Nervous like the first time I met Cindy Combs on the swings before school in third grade. I ran up the steps and took her hands. She gazed into my eyes and said “Happy Anniversary, sweetheart.” Thirty-two years ago in this gazebo. “I love you, darling.”

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