‘In a town of twelve women there was a thirteenth. No one admitted she live there, no mail came for her, no one spoke of her, no one asked after her, no one sold bread to her, no one bought anything from her, no one returned her glance, no one knocked on her door; the rain did not fall on her, the sun never shone on her, the day never dawned on her, the night never fell for her; for her the weeks did not pass, the years did not roll by; her house was unnumbered, her garden untended, her path not trod upon, her bed not slept in, her food not eaten, her clothes not worn; and yet in spite of all this she continued to live in the town without resenting what it did to her.’

– Lydia Davis, The Thirteenth Woman

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Solitary Animal

– Marilyn Chin

The solitary animal walks alone. She has no uterus. She has no bone.
She slithers around dark bars and libraries. She carves
a beautiful girl on the cave wall. She dances with Aurora Borealis,
but goes home alone.

We are 7.5 billion. Thrust onto Earth together, we are not alone.
We shout at the stars, perhaps a Martian is listening, she/he/they
with ten thousand antennae, transversal labia quivering, searching for love.

Your half-drawn monolid eyes are most tantalizing, may I take you home?
Slime you with a green kiss? Breathe magma into your bones? Claw rainbows
onto your lips? Redecorate your home?

Our vertebrae are vibrating, signally: we are not alone. Sacrificed by a greedy
admiralty, we shall live forlornly, and be devoured, headfirst, by reptilian clones.

Inch back into your fern pods, why don’t ya! Baby, I call you, but you are not home. Somewhere in the cosmos, our lies are reverberating. Fake news is sad news. Shrapnel calcifying

into bone. Each day we begin on Earth as a dying person, each breath is one less
than yesterday, we shall die alone

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‘Sudha had no fondness for her younger self, no sentimental affection for the way she had looked or the things she had done. What she felt was an overwhelming sense of regret, for what exactly she did not know. She had looked, of course, perfectly ordinary, her black hair worn in pigtails or braids, grown to her waist one year and cut like Dorothy Hamill’s the next. And she had done ordinary things: attended slumber parties and played clarinet in the school band and sold chocolate bars from door to door. And yet she could not forgive herself. Even as an adult, she wished only that she could go back and change things: the ungainly things she’d worn, the insecurity she’d felt, all the innocent mistakes she’d made.’

– Jhumpa Lahiri, Only Goodness, Unaccustomed Earth

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‘But death, too, had the power to awe, she knew this now – that a human being could be alive for years and years, thinking and breathing and eating, full of a million worries and feelings and thoughts, taking up space in the world, and then, in an instant, become absent, invisible.’

– Jhumpa Lahiri, Unaccustomed Earth

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‘There were times Ruma felt closer to her mother in death than she had in life, an intimacy born simply of thinking of her so often, of missing her. But she knew that this was an illusion, a mirage, and that the distance between them was now infinite, unyielding.’

– Jhumpa Lahiri, Unaccustomed Earth

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