—F. Kafka to R.M. Rilke, Prague, 24th July 1922
By my last count, our house has at least fourteen clocks,
one for almost every mantelpiece, and despite my
rushing back and forth from room to room,
there seems no way to get them to agree
---------on just what time it is.
What house would allow me to see them all at once?
It’s maddening. A chart with lines from every face
to a common centre places me inside a wall.
How strange. Even when I assemble them in one room
---------—in the kitchen, say—
and turn their keys and move their hands until they seem
to be in utter harmony, no sooner are they back in place
than I must face the same dilemma as before:
how can I know that still they run as one,
---------each counting off
second and minute at precisely the pace of all the others?
It is impossible and nights are sleepless worrying on it.
The debate goes on, incessantly, and I remain
uncertain just which of them should have my faith,
from Blue Rivers (Plumstead: Snailpress/Crane River, 2011).