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by Alexa Mergen

My mother says a man can last three months at most without a woman.
It's no use telling her examples of lifelong bachelors
not gay eitherI insist
before she can rebut, or statistics about how much longer women live than men.
Besides, I say into the irregular heartbeat of my cell phone on a Sunday, the woman
who takes up with a man won't be alone either. I guess, she says & I imagine her
blinking back images of a lifetime of men who have left her by death, disease,
deceit & despair. This pride of one we are so prone to among the family women:
fortresses of solitude impenetrable by reason surrounded by bilious moats of
don't touch me.

Women, I read, blink twice as much as men
whether to save what they see or shield themselves
from it. We women are glass alchemized from searing heat
& sand, protected & protecting, dangerous when shattered, irreparable.

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