Lin Page 15
looking for guidance and purpose, an enclosed photo of the writer sitting on a seat with hands folded, a square of sunlight branding the wall behind the writer. He finds something hushed and concentrated, prayer-like, about these poses. Other photos are more daring, with the writer completely naked and defiant, arms akimbo, staring straight at the camera, as if finally getting the chance to do what every child's mother told them not to do: stare at the sun.

Once he received a photo from a woman in a faraway, isolated land who wore a ceremonial dress for the occasion, no doubt the traditional clothing one wears for sun festivals, frills and layers all representing the striations of light, from deep violet to the palest orange, a wide-brimmed straw hat obscuring nearly half her face so only a small smile was completely visible, the head bowed a tiny bit in respect, hands clasped before her. He stared at

that one a long time, absorbed by the dignity of it, and packed it away deep in his knapsack, where it still rests, stuck to the bottom of a random map like glue, ready to surprise him and edify him again someday.


Hard times have befallen the town in the northeast, although one would never know it based on appearance alone. A glance at the local newspaper tells of rising stock prices, gentrification, the latest passenger automobile that seats eight. Along the promenade he had visited years before, prosperity assaults his senses at every moment. A nationally famous beer has made its home here in the form of a towering restaurant building: three floors of alcohol and fried food. A rock band commandeering the central square belches out covers of songs popular thirty years before. Streamers and banners swathe the old-style