Concertina, with Postcards in Sepia

In those years when the fog
still trailed through the long
arms of cypress, on the way
home from work you'd pass

a bookstore with the name of the opium
poppy; or was it the Spanish poppy—
emollient bloom on a stalk of slender
green? And next to it a quiet

row of stores, one in which an old
couple brushed ink on scrolls
and laid out rows of jade biscuits
threaded through silk cords

for luck. A doctor sat
on his front stoop, rolling
a joint. The ridges of hills
were not yet filled with clap-

board houses painted blue
and pink and yellow. In those
years you knew the number of steps
that led steeply from church,

and the bright red sheen of the star
on the lone gas station marquee.
When does a place detach
from the cord that used to tether

you to its markets teeming with cabbages
in carts, fish spilling like silver across
counters of tile? You don't know
when or how time folded its accordion.
You can still draw its shape, but clumsily.

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