Karen Wolf



 Learn to love your fate, I am told. What a foolish

 thing to say on such a flavorless day. The sun is shining.

 I come home, empty my pockets, and stand at the dresser,

 clearing my throat and feeling as though I inch

 along a tightrope, thinking, What a sham I am, what

 an impostor. I was left to figure out a lot of things

 on my own. For example: We are only as safe

 as our neighbors’ wiring. Surely life is handled

 by chance, the floor is mostly air, and I can be

 replaced. Who exactly is in charge? The universe

 stays mum. It is not yet evening, yet I am in my pajamas.

 The plumbers are still at work downstairs making holes


 in the walls and cursing. The radiators clang at intervals.

 The dog gnaws on his rubber toy shark. It will be spring

 soon. Sometimes I almost go out to shop for sandals,

 but I would wander the aisles and wonder if being

 is as good as doing. Be and be and be. I refuse to hear

 that suffering is brilliant, noble, and holy. I used to feel

 as though I was juggling flaming torches; now

 my arms hang at my sides. I take up this much space.

 Wouldn’t you like to light a fire under my backside?

 I’d do it myself but can’t kindle much through these

 stupid tears. I’ll tell you what I’ve learned to love:


 dessert. I could wander off for ice cream,

 but I’m too curious to leave before the end.


Karen Wolf is a painter who teaches at the Harrington College of Design. Her poems have appeared most recently in Animus, Diner, and The Mochila Review. She lives in Chicago with her husband, printmaker Duffy O’Connor.