kafka in a bar

Met Kafka in a bar. He is not a big drinker, more of a slow sipper. Will make a shot last all night. Stares down into the bar, never at the mirror behind it. I was trying to explain the Milky Way. “God’s seed spilled across the night sky,” he said. Which was confusing.

I said No, it’s something about galaxies. His eyes burned, which with him means he's perking up. “Means milk,” he said. “Galaxy means milk. ‘The Milky Way is something to do with milk.’ That’s a fine definition, compact and pleasing. I congratulate you.”

I said no, a galaxy wasn’t milk (“it used to be,” he whispered), or well if it used to be it wasn’t anymore. Now it was something about a lot of stars together. Stars and gravity. Stars held together by gravity. For a joke he said “I am held together by gravity, too.”

I said the Milky Way was our galaxy, we were part of the Milky Way. “Is the Milky Way a mirror then?” he asked. I said no, it was a galaxy, our galaxy. “Then why does it seem to be so far away, something we peer into, rather than out of? I peer out of my face. I peer into a mirror.”

I said I didn’t know.

Kafka ordered a glass of milk. “Top it off with stars,” he said. When it came, he tossed the milk in the mirror, and watched it drip down his face.