Letters To Felice

(Kafka’s letters from Riva del Garda 1913)

He arrives by train from Venice
sodden with dark worries,
weakened by insomnia,
inside him a naked bulb
flickering and hissing
straining to light a dim corridor.

At the water’s edge a willow lolls.
Swans waddle onto the road
and two twisted olive trees,
immigrants from a nearby grove,
offer their hard fruit to his straying hand.

Mountains patched with shrubs
surround the three gated town
and the lake arms open
breathes onto the shore.
At night he strolls ballooned in silhouette
then slinks thin out of the piazza.

Later he wakes mutating again.
Does he love her? Does he feel?
‘This has to end’ he writes. ‘It is no more’.
And all the time his eyes trail darkly
searching for a new face to reach towards,
so that he can slip down below the surface
that ripples oily beneath the moon.