Sunday, August 24, 2008

From high on the only shelf in what seems to be a neatly carpeted but abandoned library without walls, I take down a very small, very thick, very old book. The print in the book is the tiniest I've ever seen. Somehow I can read it, but I don't know what it means. Near the front I find a date: 1803. And on the inside cover, there's a price written in pencil: $59.00. There are many other scribbles, but they are too faded and smudged to read. I wish I had the money. . . .

I'm in a small used bookstore. This place I know. I go directly to the poetry section and without even looking I find the same small, thick, old book. This time it costs eight dollars. Then I find two more old books; both are a little larger, and barely holding together. The contents don't really look like poetry; this pleases me, because it proves poetry can look like anything and everything at the same time. I take the books to the desk by the door, behind which the owner is sitting, lost in a book of his own. To my left, I notice many shelves are missing, and that the open space has been transformed into a kind of sitting room, with one old leather chair, a table beside it, and a floor lamp for light. When I ask the owner why he made the change, he looks up and says, "That is a secret." The total price of my books comes to sixteen dollars. I take out my wallet, which is much older and more worn than I remember, and completely empty except for the pleasant surprise of a twenty dollar bill. Without hesitation, I give him the money. I wake up hungry.

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