On the dead's gray side of the wall
Hangs a gray marble plaque to Max Brod
Opposite Franz Kafka's grave.
Turn around and look down
At the pebbles that accumulate, the candles,
The short pilgrims' notes atop the gray slab.
Who clears these away,
Leaves the slate clean for the next generation,
The latest artisans of hunger?
Turn back around.
The first one called
To clear the papers from Kafka's table
Refused the job.
Unseen close-typed pages fit,
Kafka told his friend,
Only for the furnace.
The rows of neat black stones at your back
Ask of us visitors, "Remember us".
And the hunger subsides each year
When we might say kaddish,
Stack the pebbles of memory into neat cairns,
Rearrange the ashes into clear instructions
We might follow finding our way.
As any mother or sister,
Kafka refused anonymity, desired namelessness.
As with any pain, he desired only forgetting.