I leave with nothing but a bag on my back. Nothing special, faded linen worn over the years by calloused hands of a 10, 11, 12 year old.

At the market they say they’ll take anything.

I give what I have, I give everything.

They put the contents up on tarnished measuring scales, they weigh them they tell me –

My dream of the mountains I used to call home, 0.2 pounds, 3 dollars and 50 cents.

My love for him that was left collecting dust years ago, 3.2 pounds, 6 dollars and 47 cents.

My 12th birthday wish, to move away from here to a place where it’s sunny and warm and doesn’t rain all day, 1.4 pounds, 3 dollars and 27 cents.

My hope for better days no longer lived in fear and doubt, 2.8 pounds, 2 dollars and 30 cents.

These weights and exchange rates, they used to be better, I say, they’re not the same.

We’ll take everything, they say. Market’s changing, you know how it is.

Just place what you can no longer carry onwards here, we’ll give you what they’re worth back the same.

They shelve these childhood memories, hopes, and dreams, on teetering bookshelves overflowing.

I empty the contents of the bag, and I leave with nothing on my back.