I heard my name through the intercom. I left the bookshelf and walked to the back counter to see what the offer was. I wasn’t expecting much, maybe three dollars for three small bags of books. I set my expectations low, knowing anything more would be a bonus.

Twenty-two dollars–not bad.

I saw my stacks of books there. I felt a slight pang and wanted to reach for them and take them back. No, I reasoned, it was time to let them go. And there would be more in due time because there are books for keeping and books for giving up. The buyer looked at the one nearest me.

“Did you read this one?”

I placed my hand on top of the slender book.

“This one? Yes–in parts. I probably didn’t give it the attention it deserved.”

Where did this come from. I had read it, but it was so long ago.

“It reminds me of–” He rattled off a few unknown names, more independents. She wanted to reach for her notebook, so she could jot them down and look them up later. Instead, she nodded, listened, saw the excitement in his face.

He turned back to his register to complete the transaction.

“I really like the cover art,” she said.

“Yeah. It’s beautiful. Reminds me of a friend’s book. He was in an MFA program and this cover reminds me of one of his.”

“Ah, I actually found this one at the Berkeley Museum of Art’s bookstore. They had a small section of books that were on sale.

“Oh, yeah–really?”

I signed my name and took the receipt to the middle of the store and cashed in on the books I sold.

Those hummingbirds–that book–that I did read: one poem contained within its slender, white casing–a rumination that I read so long ago remembering the beautiful jacket cover more than the words inside; though, from flipping through the first few pages, just before saying goodbye, just before placing it inside the bag, just before placing it back out into the world–the words were ethereal, they beat like the wings of a butterfly and shimmered like the coat of a hummingbird, now out of my hands, but in memory–as a bitter sweet parting.

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