To Endure Life

By Wendy Galgan

after Kafka


A dozen once-pink carnations

slump over a vase,

their stems hidden in milky liquid.

The bed clothes, sweet and dank,

trail across the unswept floor.

She leaves the radio on all day,

just loud enough to be heard,

too low to be understood.


One window blind hangs crookedly.

The other has come loose from its bracket

and cannot be lowered

to cover the spotty glass.


She remembers to take out the garbage,

but newspapers and magazines

stand in tottering piles.

Books lie open

like bats

scattered spread-wing across the floor

and table tops.


In her cupboard:

an empty rice box, a jar of cardamom.

In her refrigerator:

a can of seltzer, two batteries, an egg.

The freezer, unattended, has iced shut.

One tile, dead-center on her kitchen floor,

has cracked and worked its way loose.

It crunches underfoot.


She showers, but leaves her hair to dry,

uncombed, in a tangle about her face.

She sleeps when she can no longer stay awake.

She wakes when she can no longer sleep.

Streetlights look like sunlight to her.

She has unplugged her clocks.

There is dust on the telephone.


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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