Nathan Graziano: “Reading “The Metamorphosis” with My Daughter”




Reading “The Metamorphosis” with My Daughter

After months inside the house, my body grows thick
with flesh and flab as I lie on the couch, feet kicked up
rereading the Kafka story my daughter was assigned

in her World Literature class, thinking it’s a good time
to talk about text with my sixteen-year-old first child—
we can make connections to current events in the news.

Halfway through, however, my daughter informs me
that it’s the dullest story that she’s ever read and nothing
happens except the guy turning into a bug on Page 1.

“What does this story have to do with anything relevant
to my life or the world? All he does is hide under a sheet,”
she says, tossing her battered copy against the wall.

Seeing it as a teachable moment, I take time to remind
my dear daughter that we’ve been confined to our home
for fifty-one days, losing our collective fucking minds,

and we’re still in human form without an apple lodged
in our spine so just maybe we can relate to the isolation
Gregor experiences—without Netflix or social media.

My daughter rolls her eyes, the totem of the teenage girl,
and leaves the room, the pages fanned out on the floor.
I stare out the window at a sky like a steel-gray sheet.


About the Author: Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester, New Hampshire, with his wife and kids. His books include Teaching Metaphors (Sunnyoutside Press), After the Honeymoon (Sunnyoutside Press) Hangover Breakfasts (Bottle of Smoke Press in 2012), Some Sort of Ugly (Marginalia Publishing in 2013), My Next Bad Decision (Artistically Declined Press, 2014) and Almost Christmas (Redneck Press, 2017). A novella titled Fly like The Seagull will be published by Luchador Press in 2020. For more information, visit his website:  


More By Nathan Graziano:

Homework on Uranus

Explaining Depression To My Cousin



Image Credit: “Abbildungen zu Karl Illiger’s Uebersetzung von Olivier’s Entomologie plates” Courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library


[The following translation was originally published in Per Contra.]


by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

(translation by Okla Elliott)

Who rides so late through windy night?
A father holding his child tight.
He has the youngster well in his arm,
He keeps him safe. He keeps him warm.

“My son, what twists your face with bother?”
“Don’t you see the Erlking, father?
The Erlking with crown and shroud?”
“My son, it’s but a sliver of cloud.”

Lovely, lovely child, come with me.
Such wondrous games you will see.
What bright flowers there are by the shore,
What royal clothes my mother has in store.

“Father, my father, are you listening
To what the Erlking is promising?”
“Child, calm yourself, be calm, please.
It’s just the wind rustling dried leaves.”

Sweet boy, don’t make such a fuss;
My daughters are waiting on us.
My daughters sing the nightly tunes
to cradle you beneath the moon. READ MORE