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Kafka Erases His Father With Moonlight

By

Dear Max—

Confession. In a dream, I exchanged

Hermann for moonlight.

Nein, not exchanged or replaced. Erased.

Moonlight poured fiery poison into my life.

Moonlight made me swim across the lake.

Moonlight boomed masculine and graceful.

Max, I was only a boy—hollow-boned crane.

Cold moonlight tossed me into a glacial lake

and commanded me to swim. Vater, vater,

I am only a child, I cried out to the moonlight

lifting me single-handedly out of the waves.

Moonlight was eine maschine. A machine.

Moonlight shouted until no tears glitzerten.

In a sanatorium, voiceless from tuberculosis

of the larynx, I asked for lilies and delphinium.

Swilling is the word. Foxglove and asters.

The moonlight died years ago.

Sonata of moonlight, moonlight, an ivory key

stolen from a piano. One soul lost in transit.

All that remains—moonlight

erasing moonlight.

Do not relish memories of the mondlich.

G

Author Image

Karen An-hwei Lee is the author of Phyla of Joy (Tupelo 2012), Ardor (Tupelo 2008), and In Medias Res: Poems (Sarabande 2004), winner of the Kathryn A. Morton Prize and the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America. A book of literary criticism, Anglophone Literatures in the Asian Diaspora: Literary Transnationalism and Translingual Migrations (Cambria 2013), was selected for the Cambria Sinophone World Series edited by Victor H. Mair. Recipient of an NEA fellowship, Lee currently serves as full professor of English and chair at a liberal arts college in greater Los Angeles. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

Feature image by Ann Craven, Full Moon #5 (July 18, 2008).
Oil on canvas, 60 x 60 inches.
Courtesy the artist and Maccarone Gallery

Click on the image to enlarge.

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