Portrait of a Man Descending the Stairs and About to Trip

on a small piece from one step that’s come loose, like an unexpected fault in someone you only half-know but are about to come into close contact with, as the man, unseeing not because he’s blind or even inattentive, the way he’s lately been with his wife, who sits at the breakfast table in silence, wondering what’s wrong, but rather that his eyes are focused on the ledge of the building opposite, visible through a side-pane by the landing, a brownstone with sad windows, from one of which a woman has just exited, a man’s white shirt billowing about her otherwise naked body as she leaps, and the man stares at her as if he could support her with his gaze, so stricken, so rapt.

David Galef has had stories published in over seventy magazines, rang- ing from the old British Punch to the Czech Prague Revue, the Canadian Prism International, the American Shenandoah, The Gettysburg Review, and many other places. His latest collection of fiction is A Man of Ideas and Other Stories. He’s a professor of English at Montclair State University.