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Tears

by Lisel Mueller


The first woman who ever wept was appalled at what stung her eyes and ran down her cheeks. Saltwater. Seawater. How was it possible? Hadn't she and the man spent many days moving upland to where the grass flourished, where the stream quenched their thirst with sweet water? How could she have carried these sea drops as if they were precious seeds; where could she have stowed them? She looked at the watchful gazelles and the heavy-lidded frogs; she looked at glass-eyed birds and nervous, black-eyed mice. None of them wept, not even the fish that dripped in her hands when she caught them. Not even the man. Only she carried the sea inside her body.




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