Metonymy: quick study

At the drugstore, there’s a row of cigarettes
behind the checkout counter. I never really notice
until I do, and then I’m brought back to sometime

in the ‘sixties when my father still smoked—
His favorite, Lucky Strike or Salem Menthols,
the narrow red strip around the crinkly film

of plastic that he let me pull— the smell
tufted into his clothing, mingling with Old
Spice aftershave. The empty stoppered bottles

he gave me to play with: and I’d pretend
a row of them was a fleet of ships, sails
unfurled, set on the windowsill’s grey,

peeling horizon. Crossing the street, I pass
two restaurant workers on the curb bending
over a lighter… Am I so stricken, then,

that every small trace etched or even just
caught in passing functions as metonymy? Token,
gesture. Part long ago broken off from the whole.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Sketchy.

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