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At the church basement rummage sale
I found user’s manuals for Life
piled in messy stacks on foldout tables.

Most of them were skinny,
the size of grade school workbooks
or collections of sheet music–
smudged cardboard covers,
pages stapled together.
There were diagrams and colored charts
explaining how to do
a million different things.

I snatched them up, as many as I could carry,
paid the old lady with the metal cash box
and hauled my treasure
up the worn stone steps
into the sunlight.
Only then did I discover they were
written in a foreign language,
one of the difficult ones,
Like Cantonese or Russian.

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