come dusk

come dusk
to Franz Kafka at Plana nad Luznici*

come dusk    come dusk    come dusk
you’d step out with the landlady’s dog
for a long walk first to the luznice river
then across to the woods beyond the fine villas
the shrubs on empty lawns like a waltz
around them paused in mid-step
the quiet of the evening now the best
of what could be had in the darkling
through your bitter lungs, on that bench
at the edge of the trees gazing to the river
that dragged its cold deeper on
through the lowering dusk the river
leaving with its slim freight of gleam.
times you’d go further downstream seeing
the farmers trudging back from the fields the air
thick with country joke as though shot through
with swallows headed for their evening table
of rough sacramental bread,
poking your head into the damp
rondel of a waterwheel at the mill
walking on to find that spot where
one slow turn on the heel could take it all in
the evening now holding deep in the undertow
far off Tabor the town and castle* you wrote
endlessly around and never into.  you’d head
back thinking how good it would be
to live this side of sorrow
this side of the river
where evening would fall harmlessly upon you
come dusk    come dusk    come dusk
and what mattered most would be the stars
the zodiac of farmers’ weathers

february – march 2014
nelson st, howick

*The setting of this piece comes directly from Reiner Stach’s biography of Franz Kafka, ‘The Years of Awakening’, specifically pages 464 – 465, on which the course of Kafka’s evening walk is described while staying near the Luzince River at Plana.

*allusion to Kafka’s unfinished novel, ‘The Castle’.

3 thoughts on “come dusk

  1. Indeed, Marco, there are a few I’ve written, the other I put up was called ‘first meeting’. Thanks for your comment; the repetition, the rhymes were all fortuitous accidents, happenstances of trying to describe the setting. Recommend Stach’s book to all and everyone, monumental scholarship, pathos, tragedy. Shelley Frisch’s translation reads excellently (haven’t appraised the original, needless to say).

  2. love this night-time stroll with Franz – around the town, the castle. Never in it: The Castle(: I’ve read it twice, or dreamt it!: how strange. Like a feverish dream). Enchanting, the repetition of River, the internal rhymes that caress the ear. And that magical turn on the heel. I remember: this isn’t the first love poem you’ve written for Kafka.

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