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wondering around the pantry

April 2, 2013

Structured Roots

A wet afternoon breeze swirls through the fluorescent room. Cools the face of the man standing in the pantry. He leans over the half-door out of his box office and offers food to whomever walks through the heavy glass doors. We are in the foyer of a church in downtown Portland. The rough brick walls, tile floor, and industrial door handles recall the interior design of a prison. Across from the food closet, backpacks and sleeping bags and coffee-stained paper cups sit on the floor. The breeze carries aromas of body odor and patchouli through the room.

“Hey, you got any free food?”

The inquirer jams his foot in the door and pokes his face through the crack. Neither in or out, he looks expectantly at Tom, the curly-haired man in the closet. “Come on in,” Tom replies.

“We’ve got food bags,” he says, “and there’s more under the counter…

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