WHERE AM I?
Distraught. Reaching for things in the dark. Grasping something. Feeling it in my hands. Naming it. Possessing it only for word’s sake.
This is not the next “North of Kafka” he intended to write, he tells himself. He is still working on that. Two more unfinished works to add to his oeuvre of incomplete, inconsequential, lost symphonies of the moment. Again life takes over, interrupting him, rearing its mysterious head, leading him to the abyss.
“What do you see?”
He is angry with himself. Angry with all that led him there. Again. He is looking for himself in an old notebook (one of the two unfinished Kafka symphonies in progress: old notebooks), but this is not the one, “Letters/Work,’95”, mostly listings of correspondence. Though the cover is a revelation of better days. Painting made him pure, whole. In love again. He pages through the names of correspondents in “95,” only to discover how many have left, gone over, into the abyss…that grey field of the cover painting, returning him there, where he began. Loss.
He can never find what he is looking for without finding something else. He opens another notebook, undated, finds a list of books. Books he has read? He might buy? And a few lines from Kafka: “What we need are books that hit us like a most painful misfortune, like the death of someone we loved…that makes us feel we had been banished in the woods…” (looking out the window to his own woods)…”far from any human presence, like a suicide. A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us.”
He finds another quote? poem? (not his) hastily scribbled in pencil, unidentified, in yet another notebook:
Who am I [no question mark]
Why do we never see you anywhere, they say to him, why
do you bury yourself in that hole, they say, far away from your friends,
with no parties, no nights out, no fun, you ought to get out,
see people, clock in, show your face, at least give some signs
of life. Forget it, he says to them. I get up at five o’clock have a coffee
and by the time I have erased and written six or seven lines
the day’s already over and evening is falling to erase.