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A BIT LATE TO THINK OF KAFKA

His new apartment was in a converted

eighteenth century farmhouse stranded

in a nineteenth century coastal town that,

as is the way of things by the accident

of geography, had become a prosperous port

and then declined. The back way in was along

a sloping path through an unkempt garden

then down narrow steep slate steps – slippery

that day with leaf mould. In the twilight,

two Waitrose bags-for-life in each hand,

he slipped, falling neatly on his  backpack.

However, dignity, he felt, impelled him

to rise before some neighbour found him

so he lifted himself up by twisting

his left leg as one might a tourniquet.

 

He lay on the sofa, one bag of frozen

broad beans on his ankle, another

on his calf, sipping a large Zufanek gin

with ice and lemon, studying his print

of Chirico’s ‘The Uncertainty

of the Poet’, understanding as always

the express train on the horizon,

the headless, armless, legless, twisting

female torso but puzzled as usual

by the bunches of ripening bananas.

 

The row of arches prompted him to think

of the Charles Bridge over the Vltava

in Prague; of Kafka’s married sister’s house

(where Franz wrote) in Golden Street near the Castle;

of the writer’s birthplace on the Ghetto’s edge

near the automated clock – and only then,

only then did he remember Kafka’s

Gregor Samsa: waking as some sort of

monstrous verminous insect; realising

he was late for work; lying there observing

his many legs moving like a multitude

of dysfunctional, spindly, brown bananas.

 

 

 

© Copyright David Selzer
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1 Response
  • John Huddart
    October 26, 2018

    Brilliant! Read it 4 times, and it is still yielding mysteries. Full of allusions that hang threateningly in the air. Teetering deftly over the Kafkaesque!

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