Prayer for My Sister

By Wendy Galgan

The expected phone call with unexpected news

drives me from the office.

I thought to stop at the chapel,

to call upon the trappings of a long-discarded faith,

but instead pass by the small wooden doors without pausing.


Outside, I walk until I reach the iron railing which

separates me from the harbor.

I sit on a wooden bench hard by that railing,

look through the bars toward the sea.


An odd fog lies low at the horizon,

hovers between open water and me.

Mist-white in places, it shreds as it nears the harbor’s shelter,

while its body roils around the islands,

billows about the statue’s feet.


A cool day in a warm March sends a breeze along the Promenade,

but the water beneath me doesn’t move,

except where it’s disturbed

by a lone cormorant bobbing for its dinner.

To my right, the sharp-edged city gleams in sunlight.

Not a trace of sea-mist moves across its face.

Helicopters dip like dragonflies toward the river,

then swoop around, dragging their noses,

to pass behind the skyline.


The orange ferry looks small in its berth,

seems to suddenly expand, grow broad and cumbersome

as it passes into the sea lane between city and island.

A smart, white cutter moves past the pier below,

its wake rocking the cormorant closer to shore.

Now the ferry turns to starboard and, nearing the island,

seems small again, and sturdy against the trees.


Farther out, at the fog’s edge, a boat I can’t recognize appears.

She rides low in the water, a graceful curve arches over her bow.

The mist’s tattered edges brush against her as she comes around

and points her nose straight out toward the Atlantic.

She’s too far away for me to see more than a silhouette,

a suggestion of a boat,

and the fog is drawing her in,

and she’s out of sight before I can identify her,

before I’ve learned her name.


Wendy Galgan is Assistant Professor of English at St. Francis College in Brooklyn.  Her poetry has appeared in print journals such as California Quarterly and The AFCU Journal and on the website On Earth As It Is.  Her poem “Burning Angels: March 25, 2011” is in the anthology Villanelles (edited by Annie Finch and Marie-Elizabeth Mali).  She is editor of Assisi: An Online Journal of Arts & Letters and Director of SFC’s Women’s Poetry Initiative.

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